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OF 1870 



Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 

19 2 2 




This book contains extract copies of documents relating 
to the Franco-German war of 1870 taken from the School 
Library. The selection of the documents has been made 
with a view to the use of this book for the study of the 
strategy and leadership of corps, armies and groups of 
armies during certain parts of this war. Matter concerned 
with tactics has been omitted except where necessary to 
bring out or explain some point of strategy or leadership. 
The documents given are not all that are important. They 
have been limited to what is thought may be studied in the 
time that has been generally assigned at these Schools to 
the consideration of this campaign. 

The operations of the Germans in 1870 should be com- 
pared with that of the French in 1800 and 1806, and the 
leadership of von Moltke contrasted with that of Napoleon. 
Students should be prepared to discuss this at any time dur- 
ing the course. 

Conrad H. Lanza, 
Colonel, Field Artillery. 
May 1, 1922. 

'.>t>4 '^»^ 


Part I 

Precis of the Franco-German War, by Captain 

C. S. Pratt 1 

Map of Battle of Woerth 12 

Part II 



Order of Battle 41 

Moltke's Correspondence 43 

Situation Map, Evening of August 31, 1870. _ 292 

Operations of the Second Army, by von der Goltz 295 

Plan of the Battlefield of Spicheren 306 

Map of the Attack on the Red Hill, Spicheren _ 306 
Situation Map at Gravelotte-St. Privat la 

Montagne, 7:00 PM, August 18 434 

General Map of Operations, August 16 to 18__ 442 
The III Corps at Vionville-Mars la Tour, by the 

German Great General Staff 443 

Map of Battle of Vionville-Mars la Tour 462 

Memoirs of General P. H. Sheridan 465 

Map of Battle at Gravelotte, 5 :00 PM, 

August 18 472 

Siege Operations, by von Tiedeman 477 

Strasburg 477 

Map of Strasburg 512 

Sedan 513 

Map of the Battle of Sedan 516 

Metz 518 

Map of Metz and vicinity 538 

Paris 541 

Map of Paris and vicinity 608 

Graphic G2 Estimates 609 

Position Sketches, First Army 618^ 



Part III 



Proclamation of the Emperor 625 

Graphic 02 Estimates 629 

Messages and Orders on the Battle of Spicheren 641 

Map of the Battlefield of Spicheren 646 

March of the V Corps, August 4 to 6 649 

Map of the Battlefield of Worth 652 

Orders and Messages, August 13 to 15 653 

Battles around Metz, by the French General Staff, 

discussed by Colonel von Schmid 665 

Part IV 


The London Daily News Correspondence 743 

In Pocket : 

General Plan. 

Map of the Theatre of Operations. 

French and German Names for Some 
Important Places 

French : 

German : 



























Saint Jean. 










now reads 

should read 

238 No. 118. Date 

8 August 

7 August. 

263 No. 178. 

4th line from 

in conjunction 


402 13th line 

four miles 

four [English] miles, 

449 8th line from 

6th Infantry 

6th Infantry Division. 

476 2d line 

August 15 

August 16. 


Part I 


Precis of the Franco-German War 


Captain S. C. Pratt, R. R. 


To review the political causes of the war of 1870, and 
sketch the tortuous course of policy which placed Prussia 
in the position of leader of the German race, would entail 
a study of Continental politics from the commencement of 
the century. By violation of numerous treaties, by whole- 
sale annexation of the minor states, and finally by the 
expulsion of Austria from Germany, she became invested 
with the military supremacy, and a popular war with a for- 
eign power was all that was necessary to re-establish the an- 
cient German Empire and secure the long desired unity 
of the German peoples. In France, on the other hand, the 
growing power of her ancient enemy, the astounding suc- 

*This short precis of the 1870-1 campaign has been written in 
the belief that it will be acceptable 'to many officers who would not 
consult a more lengthy account. It may also be of advantage to those 
entering upon the study of the campaign; forming, as it does, a 
framework the details for the filling up of which are at hand in the 
many histories now issued. Some difficulty has been experienced in 
finding out the actual numbers engaged in the several battles. The 
German official accounts, though perfectly accurate in the detail they 
give, do not take into consideration the troops outside the zone of 
fire, who in many cases affected the result of the engagement. For 
this reason, in more than one instance, the approximate numbers 
given by Lecomte have been adopted. To compress the description 
of several distinct campaigns into a few pages necessitates the omis- 
sion of many minor facts and the suppression of much detail. How 
far the judgment of the writer has been sound in his work of excision 
must be left to the opinion of the military student. 

Precis of the Franco-German War 

cesses of the six weeks' war, and the unsuccessful attempts 
to obtain a rectification of the Rhine frontier, had aroused 
a feeling of bitter hostility. France alone was determinedly 
hostile to German unity ; Prussia was open to an arrange- 
ment, Austria was too enfeebled by the Sadowa campaign 
to interfere, and England had notoriously withdrawn her- 
self from the complications of Continental politics. The 
pretensions of the two great rivals had to be decided on 
the battle-field and the immediate cause of rupture is a 
matter of little importance. A diplomatic quarrel arising 
from the offer of the Spanish throne to the Prince of 
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen afforded a plausible pretext for 
war, which was formally declared by the French on the 
19th July, 1870. 

Previous to entering upon a description of the cam- 
paign, it will be necessary to refer briefly to the system of 
recruitment and the comparative military position of the two 
rival armies. 

The military organization of the German forces was 
based on territorial divisions corresponding more or less 
to the civil ones ; thus the provinces each furnished a corps 
d'armee, the districts a brigade, and the circles or parishes 
a battalion. Every German was liable for service, no sub- 
stitution was permitted, and persons unfit to serve under 
arms were allotted to the non-combatant branches as hos- 
pital attendants, military tradesmen, &c. Liability to army 
service lasted 12 years, of which 3 were passed in the stand- 
ing army, 4 in the reserve, and 5 in the Landwehr. In case 
of invasion, the Landsturm, or entire able-bodied popula- 
tion (up to the age of 42), could, in addition, be called to 
arms. To alleviate the burden of compulsory enrollment, a 
system of liberal exemptions was organized ; the bulk of 
the men passed over, forming what was called the Ersatz 
Reserve. The army in peace time was thus composed of 
four distinct classes: — 

1. The standing army; or the men actually in the ranks. 

2. The reserves, or men who had passed through the ranks and 
were liable to be re-called at once to the colors, and bring up the 
army to its war strength. 


3. The Landwehr; or men who had passed through both army 
and reserve — who were separately organized in Landwehr battalions 
and constituted a 2nd line of defense. 

4. The Ersatz Reserve or untrained men who could be called into 
the depots when required. 

An intimate connection was maintained between the 
line and the Landwehr; to each three-battalion regiment 
of the standing army there being attached a Landwehr 
regiment of two battalions. A German passed the first 3 years 
of his life in the service of the regular army ; he then returned 
to civil life, but was borne on the books of the regiment as a 
reservist for the next four years ; after which period he was 
transferred to the ranks of the corresponding Landwehr bat- 
talion. The address of each man was registered, and at 
the order to mobilize he was required at once under heavy 
penalties to present himself at the nearest military centre 
for the purpose of taking his place in the ranks. Every 
civilian knew exactly the position he would have to fill if 
suddenly called upon. By maintaining an efficient organi- 
zation at all the military centres, it was apparent that an 
order to mobilize could be rapidly passed on from the Head- 
quarters at Berlin through all the several grades of terri- 
torial divisions till it finally reached every able-bodied man 
liable for service in the country. At each of the local cen- 
tres, stores of clothing and material were kept ready for 
issue. Equally complete arrangements with regard to the 
mustering of horses, the formation of trains, the collec- 
tion of supplies, combined with a detailed transit organi- 
zation, enabled each army corps to be assembled completely 
armed and equipped and ready to take the field within a 
few days after instructions had been telegraphed through- 
out the country. As a result of this almost perfect system, 
the army of the North German Confederation, combined 
with those of the affiliated states, was enabled to reach the 
gigantic total of 1,180,000 men within a fortnight after the 
outbreak of hostilities. 

The French army was organized on a very different 
method, there being no regular peace formation of the 
higher tactical units. The country was certainly divided 

Precis of the Franco-German War 

into a number of commands ; but these, with the exception 
of the army corps at Paris and Lyons, formed territorial 
and not tactical combinations of troops. On declaration of 
war, the staff of the army was chosen and the regiments 
apportioned to each corps, but necessarily the component 
units of so disunited a mass could not work together at 
first without a great deal of friction. In 1866 it was ap- 
parent that, owing to many causes — the principal of which 
were the longer service in the ranks, exemptions by pay- 
ment, and the "plague of substitutes" — the Imperial army 
was vastly inferior, both in numbers and morale, to that 
of Germany. To remedy this state of things the recruiting 
law of 1868 initiated a system of trained reserves, abolished 
exemption by payment, and provided for the formation 
of Gardes Mobiles — corresponding somewhat to a combina- 
tion of the German Landwehr and Ersatz Reserve. By 
making the Act partially retrospective it was hoped that 
large additions could be at once made to the defensive 
forces of the country, but the premature declaration of war 
prevented these reforms being carried out in their entirety. 
On the 1st of August, the total of the available troops, in- 
cluding many partially-trained men, amounted to 567,000. 
After making the necessary deductions, the utmost field 
force that could be assembled consisted of 300,000 men 
with 924 guns, and behind these in second line there were 
no trained reserves. In addition to numerical inferiority, 
the general condition of the French army was by no means 
satisfactory. The general officers had no experience in 
the leading of large bodies of troops, the staff was ineffi- 
ciently educated, the regimental officers had not sufficient 
authority over their men, the mass of the soldiery M^ere 
contaminated by the evils of substitution, and the bonds of 
discipline were relaxed owing to the enervating effects of 
the Algerian and Mexican campaigns and the pernicious 
spread of democratic principles among all ranks. To rap- 
idly mobilize the army was a matter of some difficulty, 
owing to the excessive over-centralization of the adminis- 
tration. Every matter of petty detail had to be referred to 



the Paris War Office, and the machinery capable of con- 
trol in time of peace was utterly unable to cope with the 
exigencies of war. Whereas in Germany the men of the 
reserves joined at once their local corps, in France the 
reservist was sent first to the depot companies, however dis- 
tant they might be, to receive his equipment, and then 
hurried back to his regiment, which in many cases was 
close to his home. The system of mobilization was not 
sufficiently elastic for modern war requirements, and the 
first days after the declaration of hostilities, which should 
have been employed in the general interest of the army, 
were frittered away in dealing with minor administrative 
details. To the German system of decentralization of large 
localized units, was opposed an excessively concentrated 
machinery working a mass of petty isolated elements. 

The Prussians, fully aware of their superiority in num- 
ber determined from the first to anticipate any attempt of 
their adversaries to carry the war on to German soil. It 
was obvious that if the French took the initiative they 
would be forced, owing to the situation of the neutral ter- 
ritories of Luxemburg and Switzerland, either to advance 
into Rhenish Prussia or cross the upper Rhine. There was 
no valid reason for expecting a rapid mobilization ; though, 
from the existence of the eastern camps and garrisons, a 
part of the Imperial forces might be ready to take the field 
in a very short time. To counteract a possible invasion 
over the upper or lower Rhine, and at the same time re- 
serve the power of employing their numerically superior 
forces in an offensive effort, was the problem to be solved 
by the Prussian staff. In accordance with a pre-arranged 
plan, it was decided that three large armies should be as- 
sembled in the Palatinate.* 

If the Emperor invaded the Rhenish provinces, he 
would encounter the whole of the German forces; if he 
crossed the Upper Rhine, his line of communications and 
further advance would be seriously imperilled by the pres- 
ence of powerful hostile bodies on his flank. To make full 

'Rhein Pfalz on map. 

Precis of the Franco-German War 

use of their railway system for rapid concentration, the 
French would presumedly be obliged to assemble in two 
main groups at Metz and Strassburg, with the Vosges 
separating them. In the Palatinate the Germans would 
stand on interior lines to masses thus formed, and be able 
to act against either or both simultaneously. If the Em- 
peror massed his forces for a defensive effort, it was evi- 
dent that Alsace would have to be evacuated, as the advance 
of the troops of the Confederation on both sides of the 
Vosges completely turned the first defensive line formed 
by that mountain chain. In this case a wheel to the right 
of the three armies would be necessary, preparatory to a 
general advance westward against the Imperial forces. 

But little danger was to be apprehended from the sepa- 
ration of the German forces by the Vosges. If the armies 
on either side of the mountains were defeated, they would 
fall back on their own troops; while the French forces, in 
case of disaster acting from divergent bases, would naturally 
be driven away from one another. The sole remaining diffi- 
culty was as to whether the German armies could be con- 
centrated beyond 'the Rhine in the Palatinate without en- 
countering the risk of being beaten in detail by a rapid 
offensive movement of the French. The plan of campaign 
projected by the Emperor was to mass 150,000 men at Metz, 
100,000 at Strasburg, and 50,000 at Chalons as a reserve. 
The two first-mentioned fractions were to amalgamate, 
cross the Rhine at Maxau, force the southern German states 
into neutrality, and advance towards the Main to seek a 
general action with the Prussian forces. To carry out this 
idea it was obvious that the passage of the Rhine would 
have to be effected before the German armies were mobi- 
lized. Assuming this was possible, it is difficult to see how 
further successes were to be obtained. To force South 
Germany into quiescence, and at the same time mask the 
Rhine fortresses, would absorb a large proportion of the 
invading troops. With a line of powerful fortified cities in 
rear, a large entrenched camp on the flank (Mainz) and a 
numerically superior army in front, the prospect of a suc- 
cessful advance to Berlin seems somewhat visionary. 





To carry out their preconceived plans, the armies of 
the two nations were gradually assembled on the frontier. 
The order to mobilize the North German forces was issued 
on the evening of the 15th July, for both the line and Land- 
wehr simultaneously; it being apparent that the coming 
struggle would in all probability assume gigantic propor- 
tions. Within ten days the local mobilizations of the army 
corps were complete, and on the 23rd the transport by rail 
to the frontier commenced. Precise details as to the way 
in which each corps was to be forwarded — including the 
very hours of departure and arrival, and the number of 
carriages in each train — had been prepared long beforehand, 
and on the 30th July the German forces, divided into three 
large armies, took up with their leading troops the line of 
the Rhine from Coblenz to Germersheim. 




II Army.- 

-General Steinmetz. VII and VIII Corps, 
50,000 inf., 
4800 cav. 

Position on 
31st July 


-Prince Frederick 

& S. of it 

III Army.— Crown Prince 


III, IV, IX, X, and 
XII Corps, and Gd. 
152,000 inf., 
22,200 cav. 

V, XI, I Bav., and II 
Bav. Corps, 
Baden Div. and Wur- 
temburg Div. 
126,000 inf. 
14,800 cav. 

Total 328,000 inf., 41,800 cav., with 1,206 guns. 

The I Corps joined the I Army, the II Corps the II 
Army, and the VI Corps the III Army a few days later, 
forming with the addition of the 17th Inf. and four Landwehr 
divisions, a total of 462,000 Inf., 56,800 cav., and 1584 guns.* 

*The German corps consisted on an average of 25 battalions, 8 
squadrons, and 15 batteries, and including the cavalry divisions may be 
valued at 30,000 combatants. Officers and noncombatants not in- 
cluded in above totals. 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

The French forces at this period consisted of 210,000 
men,* divided into three main groups in the neighborhood 
of St. Avoid, Strasburg and Chalons. Though nominally 
one army, it was practically two, the right wing of which 
(47,000 men) was east of the Vosges, under the command of 
Marshal Macmahon, while the left 128,000) was superin- 
tended by the Emperor personally at St. Avoid. The seven 
corps comprised in these totals were bivouacked in a very 
dispersed order, and echeloned along the whole frontier, 
from Thionville to Strasburg. Besides these troops, there 
was a reserve corps of about 35,000 men, chiefly at Chalons. 
It must be remembered, however, that the French numbers 
were increasing daily, owing to the constant influx of the 
reserves, and at the commencement of August the strength 
may be put down at from 260 to 270,000 men. 

The difference between the two systems of concentra- 
tion is strikingly apparent. Each German army corps, com- 
pletely furnished with men, horses and equipment, in its 
own local district, was forwarded to the front an effective 
unit of the army of which it was to compose a part. On the 
other hand, the French corps were actually mobilized on the 

Difficulties first arose about calling in the reserves, after- 
wards in their transport and equipment, and the events of 
each succeeding day accumulated evidence as to the state of 
insufficient preparation and the other evils inherent in the 
French system. The railways were blocked with trains of 
reservists unable to get forward, the regimental and corps 
transport was incomplete, horses had to be taken from the 

'Strength of French army the 29th July: 

Guard (Bourbaki) 20,500 

1st Corps (Macmahon) 37,000 

2nd Corps (Frossard) 23,430 

3rd Corps (Bazaine) 35,800 

4th Corps (Ladmirault) 26,000 

5th Corps (De Failly) 23,000 

6th Corps (Canrobert) 29,900 

7th Corps (Douay) 9.900 

Reserve Cavalry and Engineers 4,550 

Total 210,080 men 


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artillery to bring forward the necessary food supplies, and 
the actual necessaries of bread and meat were in many 
cases not forthcoming. In addition to the failure of the 
field administration^ it was found that the fortresses were 
in a most defective condition. Around Metz, the detached 
forts were neither revetted nor armed, the depots for provi- 
sions had not been filled, nor any arrangements made for 
standing a siege. Strasburg and the minor fortresses fared 
but little better ; armed with obsolete weapons, and deficient 
in men and stores, the energies of their Commandants were 
taxed to the uttermost. 

Veiled by a thin cordon of outposts, the Germans formed 
their armies on the bank of the Rhine, and pushed for- 
ward, strong, compact, united, to the frontier; while in 
front of them, sprinkled along the whole line, stood detached 
French corps, weak in men, deficient in equipment and 
swayed to and fro by contradictory orders. 

Up to the 2nd August there was no serious fighting on 
either side, but on that date the Emperor determined to 
make a reconnaissance in force towards Saarbrucken, with 
the left wing of the army. From lack of preparation, his 
plan was not carried out in its entirety, but resulted in an 
offensive movement of the 2nd Corps (Frossard) alone. 
Neither the I and II German armies having yet received 
the orders to advance to the frontier, the defence of the 
town was left to a few outpost troops, who made a gallant 
stand but were naturally obliged to evacuate their position. 
The capture of Saarbrucken, to effect which an entire 
French army corps was deployed in battle order, was there- 
fore but a trifling success. It is difficult to see what object 
was gained by this military demonstration, as no further 
offensive movement was made, and the French forces re- 
mained in quietude on the banks of the Saar. Great uncer- 
tainty as to military situation appeared at this period to 
exist on the French side as to whether their strategy should 
be of an offensive or defensive character, and even at this 
early stage their movements seem regulated by those of their 

Precis of the Franco-German War 

In the beginning of August, Marshal MacMahon, in 
obedience to orders from Headquarters, pushed forward 
his troops to northern Alsace, directing his main forces to- 
wards a chosen position at Froesehwiller and sending a 
division under General Douay to the ancient fortress of 

On the German side all ideas of defensive measures 
had been abandoned, and the armies were gradually de- 
ploying into an east and west line, preparatory to forcing 
the frontier. It was evident that the III Army would 
have the arduous task of passing through the mountain 
roads of the lower Vosges, and eventually have to force the 
defiles of the main range. To allow sufficient time for this 
extra work, the army of the Crown Prince was put into 
motion on the 4th August, with orders to advance into Al- 
sace, and the bulk of the army marched accordingly in four 
columns to the Lauter stream, which formed the frontier 
line. On arriving at Weissenburg, it was found that the 
town and a line of hills south of it was held by the troops of 
Douay's division, about 5000 in number. The old fortress 
was speedily captured, and a general frontal attack made 
on the defensive position held by the French General. The 
gradually advancing German forces reinforced the assault- 
ing troops, and enabled a flank movement to be directed 
against the right of the French line. Completely outnumbered 
after a stubborn and gallant resistance, the French gave 
way, and retired precipitately on their main body, then as- 
sembling in the neighborhood of Worth. 

The baneful effect of the undue dissemination of 
forces is here fully exemplified. The detachment of General 
Douay's small division to the frontier must be looked on as 
a strategical error. If the German forces were making an 
inroad into Alsace, it was clear that 5000 men would not 
stop them; if, on the other hand, the French troops were 
employed merely as an advanced post, their role should 
have been more clearly pointed out to them. 

On the evening of the 4th all contact with the enemy 
was lost, and the next day, in rear of large bodies of recon- 
noitering cavalry, the III Army advanced, prepared to con- 



centrate for battle in either a southerly or westerly direc- 
tion. Information was received on the 5th that the French 
were assembling in force in the neighborhood of Worth, 
with the evident intention of disputing the passes of the 
Vosges, and orders were issued in consequence for a con- 
centrated advance in that direction. 

On the French side confusion reigned supreme. Owing 
to the defective and tardy concentration, the original plan 
of campaign could not be carried out. Reduced to defensive 
measures by the threatening advance of the German forces, 
it was obvious that a general union of the dispersed corps 
would be advisable. It was clearly impossible for the left 
wing of the army to advance through the Vosges and leave 
the I and II German Armies on its flank. If, however, the 
French right wing was to retire westward, the whole of 
Alsace would be given up without a general engagement — a 
proceeding likely to be received with little favor by the tur- 
bulent spirits in the capital. The independent command of 
the right wing was accordingly bestowed on Macmahon, with 
the clear understanding that he should endeavor to make 
head against the invader. Telegraphing to the corps of 
De Failly at Bitsch, which had been placed under his orders, 
and hurrying up available troops from Strassburg, were 
the measures he adopted preparatory to taking up at Worth 
a tactically strong position, which defended, both directly 
and indirectly, the main passes through the mountains. 

The French troops facing east (left wing retired), oc- 
cupied a line about 31/0 miles in extent along the undulating, 
partly wooded, partly vine-clad spurs of the western Vosges. 
In front, within musketry range, was a valley of flat mead- 
ow land traversed by the Sauer — a stream fordable with 
difficulty in consequence of recent rains. The range of 
heights on the eastern side of the valley afforded but little 
shelter to an advancing force, the right flank was open and 
could be swept with artillery fire, but the existence of wooded 
ravines rendered a refusal of the left necessary. A main 
chaussee, running at right angles to the defensive line, 
passed through the villages of Worth on the Sauer and 
Froeschwiller in rear of the centre of the position. 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

On the morning of the 6th the leading troops of the III 
Army came in contact with the French outposts, and at- 
tacked impetuously. On neither side was it intended to fight 
a general action, but the serious engagement initiated by the 
German advanced guards rendered a withdrawal from the 
fight rather compromising. Up to mid-day isolated attacks 
attended with great loss were made against the position, 
finally culminating in an artillery duel between the batteries 
of both armies. Supported by the concentrated fire of their 
massed artillery, and the hourly increasing numbers of 
their troops, the V and XI German Corps made a general 
advance against the French right and centre. The fire-swept 
low-lying meadows were traversed with heavy loss, and a 
footing gradually gained on the western side of the valley. 
The central attack made but slow progress, but ground was 
gradually gained in the Niederwald — a wood on the French 
right — and a portion of the Imperial troops were cut off 
and retreated in disorder toward Haguenau. The attack- 
ing line gradually converged towards Froeschwiller — the key 
of the position — the great superiority in numbers of the 
Germans leading to the gradual envelopment of the French 
flanks. Heroic attempts were made to change the fortunes of 
the day by charges of cavalry ; but the nature of the ground 
was too unfavorable to admit of the slightest success. Over- 
matched in artillery and completely outnumbered, the 
French at last gave way, and fled to the rear in the greatest 
confusion. Some of the fugitives took the road to Bitsch, 
many made their way to Strasburg, but the bulk of the army 
retreated to Saverne, where they were eventually reduced 
to a semblaiice of order. Owing to the impossiblity of push- 
ing unsupported cavalry through the mountain passes, and 
the rapid forced marches of Macmahon, all contact be- 
tween the two armies was lost. The 7th was a day of rest for 
the German forces, with the exception of the Baden Divi- 
sion, which was sent off in the direction of Strassburg, 
which was summoned to surrender on the 9th August.* 

Suddenly given command of an army dispersed along 
the frontier from Bitsch to Strassburg, with an enemy of 

*The siege of Strasburg is referred to subsequently. 




threefold strength within a day's march, the position of 
Macmahon was certainly unenviable. Exception may, 
however, be fairly taken to his stand at Worth; though 
tactically strong, the position was strategically defective. 
For an inferior force to offer battle with a series of defiles 
in its rear cannot but lead to disaster in case of retreat, and 
to defend the passes of the Vosges in such a manner when 
they were practically turned by the advancing I and II Ger- 
man Armies seems injudicious. If from political causes 
it was necessary to fight east of the Vosges, it would appear 
that the retention of Strassburg as a base would give the 
opportunity of striking an offensive blow on the flank of an 
army attempting to cross the mountains, and at the same 
time secure a safe retreat. The non-appearance of De 
Failly's corps on the field has been the subject of much com- 
ment, arising as it did from the reception of contradictory 
orders from the Headquarters of each wing of the army. 
Although the defeated troops were much disorganized, it 
seems scarcely necessary for them to have taken such a cir- 
cuitous route westward, or retreat so far. It has been sug- 
gested that a better course would have been to gain Metz 
by the left bank of the Moselle and join the forces of Ba- 
zaine, or retreat southward on Belfort. In the one case the 
union of the entire French army would be effected, in the 
other the presence of regular troops in the south would un- 
doubtedly compel a division of the German forces, and 
possibly arrest the general advance. 

In the meantime, the I and III German Armies ad- 
vanced side by side to the frontier. Acquainted with the 
success of the II Army and suspecting a retreat of the 
French forces in their front, they pushed forward their 
advanced guards towards Saarbrucken and the line of the 
Saar. It was intended that the main body of the II Army 
should pass through the town while the I Army was utiliz- 
ing points of passage lower down the river. 

Onthe6thof August, General Frossard (the commandant 
of the corps that made the demonstration on the 2nd) , with- 
drawing his outposts, took up a position on the Spicheren- 
Steiring heights, opposite the town of Saarbrucken. De- 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

ceived by the apparent retreat of the French, and under the 
impression that a weak rear guard had alone to be 
dealt with, the leading German troops boldly crossed 
the river. A heavy fire of artillery, however, soon made it 
apparent that the nearly impregnable heights were held in 
force. In spite of great inferiority in numbers, a bold 
attack was made on both flanks of the position, but without 
success; and the small German force (a division), fought 
unsupported against the whole of Frossard's corps for more 
than two hours. Gradually accruing reinforcements gave a 
new impetus to the attack, which became general along 
the whole line. The steep slopes of the plateau were grad- 
ually surmounted, in spite of the murderous fire of the 
Chassepot, and with incredible exertions twelve guns were 
eventually hauled up to the crest. As at Worth, a wood on 
the right of the French line was successfully utilized in the 
advance, and the superior direction of the German artillery 
plainly evinced. Against the Prussian position on the edge 
of the plateau, frontal attacks in force were repeatedly 
made. Disheartened by their want of success, and threat- 
ened on their left flank by newly arriving troops, the French 
gave way at nightfall and retreated in good order on Saarge- 

It is not difficult to attribute to its true causes the 
double defeat suffered by the French on this day. Superior- 
ity in numbers and organization, combined with the advan- 
tage of taking the offensive, were on the German side. The 
advance of their powerful armies on both sides of the Vosges 
with their flanks covered by Luxemburg and the Rhine, 
was a safe operation ; and though either wing might have 
received a check, a disaster was impossible. On the French 
side a defective administration nullified all the attempts 
to carry out the original plans of the Emperor. The dispo- 
sition of the several corps seems, moreover, very injudicious, 
and to violate the sound principle that inferior forces 
should be massed. Whether for offensive or defensive pur- 
poses, it was essential that the French troops should be 
concentrated ; and while effecting that object it was unsafe 



to place isolated corps, liable to defeat, so close to the fron- 
tier. Distributed, however, as they were, the lack of com- 
mon reconnoitering precautions seems inexcusable. In the 
several engagements, notably at Spicheren — the want of mu- 
tual co-operation of corps on the French side is especially 
remarkable, while the sound of firing apparently hurried 
all available German forces to the field of battle. This prin- 
ciple seems, however, to have been carried to excess at 
Worth, where the German outflanking troops lost sight 
of their proper objective. 

After their defeats, the beaten armies retreated in a west- 
erly direction in two large masses. The greater portion of one 
of these bodies consisted of the troops routed at Worth, 
whose retirement was compulsory and attended with dis- 
aster. The left wing, on the other hand, was composed of 
the main Imperial army, only one of whose corps had yet 
been in contact with the enemy. With their right wing 
utterly disorganized, and their main body threatened in 
front with superior numbers, it was obvious that all of- 
fensive action was impossible, and that immediate meas- 
ures had to be taken to secure the defense of the country. 
To effectually utilize their inferior forces, it was necessary 
to unite the two separated portions (now bearing the names 
of the armies of Chalons and Metz). Owing to the disor- 
ganized state of MacMahon's troops, it was hopeless to 
expect a concentration east of the Moselle, and a general 
retreat to that river was ordered. There was much dis- 
pute as to the best course to pursue — whether to retire 
direct on Chalons, and thereby unite the two armies ; or to 
retreat on Metz with the main body, and endeavor to close 
in the right wing to it; or to take up a defensive position 
south of Metz, and dispute the passage of the Moselle. As 
a consequence, between the 6th and 12th of August, orders 
and counter orders succeeded one another with lamentable 
rapidity; but eventually the retreat on Chalons was defin- 
itely decided on. The main body retired from the district 
of St. Avoid directly on Metz, the vicinity of which was 
reached on the 12th inst. The 6th Corps (originally a 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

portion of the reserve), was hurried up to the fortress, 
and on the 13th an army of 176,000 men was assembled 
under the detached forts lying to the east of Metz. Mac- 
Mahon, in the meantime, was retreating via Luneville on 
Chalons, where he eventually* succeeded in collecting about 
120,000 men, the greater portion of whom consisted of the 
1st, 5th, and 7th Corps. 

While the two armies were in full retreat, strenuous 
efforts were made by the Government to increase the de- 
fensive power of the country. The Gardes Mobiles were 
called out throughout the whole of France, old soldiers were 
recalled to the ranks, the troops destined for the Baltic 
expedition (including marines), were hurried to the capi- 
tal, and provisions laid in with the utmost despatch. 

Whether it was necessary to give up the whole of the 
country east of the Moselle without resistance is a matter 
for discussion, but under the circumstances it was probably 
advisable. The defensive positions on the Nied were not 
suitable for an army so large as that of Bazaine, and the 
co-operation of MacMahon could, moreover, scarcely be 
expected. At Frouard, however, on the Moselle, both armies 
might easily have been concentrated by the 13th, and the 
position would have been both strategically and tactically 
powerful. On the other hand, the fortress of Metz was in 
a most defenceless state, and urgent appeals were made to 
secure its safety by the detachment of a large force. By 
marching the troops of Bazaine through the town, time 
and opportunity would be given for strengthening the 
works and reinforcing the garrison of the virgin city. 

After their successes at Worth and Spicheren, the 
three German armies occupied with their leading troops 
a south-easterly line passing through the two places, the 
III Army (Crown Prince) being separated from the other 
two by the ngountain chain of the Vosges. Owing to the 
hurried retreat of the French forces, contact was lost for 
the time ; but it was naturally supposed that a serious stand 
would be made on the line of the Moselle. To effectually 

*21st August. 



link the armies together and make a simultaneous advance 
towards the retreating troops, it was necessary to make a 
strategical M'heel to the right on the pivot of Saarbrucken. 
To carry out this measure the I Army (Steinmetz) had to 
remain halted, the II Army (Prince Frederick Charles), 
gathering up its rearmost troops, had to push forward 
south to form the centre of the line, while the III Army 
(Crown Prince), forming the outer flank, had to traverse 
the difficult defiles of the Vosges, and close in on to the left 
of the II Army. The passes through the mountains which 
the Crown Prince had to utilize were closed by small forts, 
none of which proved a real obstacle with the exception of 
Bitsch and Phalsbourg.* Advancing in five different col- 
umns, the mountain range was crossed in two days, and 
union with the left of the II Army effected on the line 
of the Saar. As soon as the wheel was completed, the 
three armies marched westward through Lorraine, linked 
together in one homogeneous body, with their front covered 
by a numerous cavalry, two days' march ahead. On the 
12th of August the positions marked in the map were 
reached, the right of the whole force resting on the Nied, 
the left somewhat withdrawn at Saarburg, 

The same evening the French Emperor, constrained 
by public opinion, handed over the command to Bazaine, 
with definite instructions to retreat at once through Metz 
on Chalons. Numerous temporary bridges had been pre- 
viously thrown across the Moselle, but were rendered use- 
less for the most part on account of heavy floods. The 
whole of the 13th was occupied in arranging the details of 
a passage, which was not commenced till the following 
morning. The French troops were encamped on the right 
bank of the river in a wide semi-circle, within range of the 
detached forts. The cavalry patrols sent out in the morn- 

*Bitsch — a strong' isolated fort — was invested by Bavarian 
troops, and did not fall into German hands during the w^ar. 

Phalsbourg-, commanding the high road through Vosges, was 
bombarded by the XI Corps and eventually invested by Landv^^ehr 
troops. The commandant made a most gallant resistance with the 
small garrison at his disposal (1200 men), and held the fort up to 
the 12th December, when famine forced him to capitulate. 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

ing did not report the presence of an enemy, and the re- 
treat was leisurely begun from both flanks of the line of 
bivouacs. By 3 o'clock half the French forces had crossed 
the river. 

In the meantime, the three German armies, steadily 
advancing, had reached with their advanced troops the 
vicinity of Metz and the general line of the Moselle. 

The General commanding the advanced guard of the 
VII Corps (I Army) arriving at Laquenay saw the French 
troops gradually defiling to the rear. Aware that it was 
highly important that the French retreat should be delayed 
as much as possible, in view of the contingency that a flank 
attack might be made on the leading troops of the II Army 
now crossing the Moselle, he determined to assault at once 
with the small force at his command (a brigade), inform- 
ing at the time the commanders of the corps nearest him 
(the I, VII, and IX) of his intention. Covering the French 
retreat was the 3rd Corps (Decaen), deployed in two lines 
facing to the east on the heights above the village and 
valley of Colombey. These troops were in the act of re- 
tiring when attacked impetuously on their centre by the 
Goltz brigade. On the German side were advancing in 
support the leading troops of the I and VII Corps, on the 
outer flanks of which were two cavalry divisions. The 
gradual reinforcement of the fighting line eventually con- 
verted into a battle what was originally but a ' vanguard 
action. To meet the increasing hostile forces, a portion of 
the French 4th Corps (Ladmirault), which had crossed 
the river, was repassed to the right bank, and in conjunc- 
tion with the troops of Decaen resisted the German ad- 
vance with success. The Imperial Guard was available for 
offensive purposes, but was employed solely as a reserve. 
As night closed neither side had given way, and in accord- 
ance with the orders of the morning the French retreat 
was continued, and the remainder of the army passed across 
the river under the protection of the detached forts. 

This battle — commenced at an hour at which engage- 
ments often terminate — may be cited as a successful ex- 



ample of an advanced guard action, where a small body 
of troops initiated a strategical victory by arresting the 
retreat of an army, maintaining at the same time, without 
retiring, the forward position to which a bold attack had 
committed them. Victory has been claimed by both sides, 
and tactically it may fairly be considered to be a drawn 
fight. The strategical importance of the engagement was, 
however, clearly seen by the German Headquarters, as 
evinced by the order issued on the morning of the 15th : — 
"The fruits of the victory (i. e. Borny) can only be gained by 
a vigorous offensive by the II Army towards the Metz-Ver- 
dun Road (east of Metz)." The attack of General Goltz 
with his advanced guard brigade was certainly justified by 
its success but it is an open question whether in case of 
failure it would not have incurred much hostile criticism. 
The conduct of Bazaine at this period has been much com- 
mented on. It has been urged that if he was bent on re- 
treating, he should not have fought at all on the 14th, but 
let the guns of the Metz forts keep the enemy at a distance ; 
or if he accepted battle, he should have taken a vigorous 
offensive against the inferior forces in his front. On the 
other hand, he has stated as his opinion that he was com- 
mitted to a retreat, but that the outer detached forts were 
in such a defenceless state that they were liable to be taken 
by assault, and that therefore the onward pressure of the 
Germans had to be resisted up to a certain point. 

On the following day the march westward of the 
French was continued. From Metz two main chaussees lead 
towards Verdun — the northern passing through Woippy, 
St. Privat, and Briey, the southern through Longeville to 
Gravelotte, where the road bifurcates. It was intended 
that the retreat should take place by the southern of these 
roads as far as Gravelotte, and thence by the chaussees 
leading through Doncourt — Conflans and Rezonville — 
Mars-la-Tour. On the Rezonville Road the 2nd Corps 
iFrossard) was to lead, followed by the 6th (Canrobert) 
and the Guard; on the more northern route the 4th Corps 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

(Ladmirault), followed by the 3rd (Leboeuf)* which was 
again to act as rear guard in anticipation of an attack from 
the north of Metz by the I Army. Great delay was caused 
in passing through Metz, owing to the encumbrance of quan- 
tities of unnecessary baggage, f and the insufficient bridg- 
ing of the Moselle. Some additional time was also undoubt- 
edly lost on account of the action of Borny. The troops 
on the most southern road were ready to advance, but were 
obliged to wait until the rest of the forces had reached 
their assigned positions. On the evening of the 15th, the 
2nd and 6th Corps were bivouacked in the neighbourhood of 
Rezonville, the Guard being to their rear on the Gravelotte 
plateau. During the day the presence of German cavalry 
and artillery on the left flank made itself apparent, but 
the importance of the fact does not appear to have sug- 
gested itself to the French staff. Aware that Bazaine was 
in full retreat, the German II Army pushed forward with 
alacrity in the direction of Verdun, in order to intercept 
him. It was necessary to keep some troops on the eastern 
side of Metz, to prevent sallies of the garrison — a duty 
which naturally fell to the I Army, which was already in 

On the evening of the 15th, the II German Army had 
four of its corpsj on the line of the Moselle (Metz to 
Frouard) one division having reached the advance position 
of Thiancourt. Further south, the general line of advance 
was taken up by the troops of the III Army. 

The French retreat was to have been resumed at 4 
A. M., but owing to the 4th Corps not having come up into 
line was deferred till midday. Early in the morning a 
reconnaissance in force was made by the 5th (German) 
Cavalry Division, and four batteries of horse artillery. Ad- 
vancing at a gallop, the batteries unlimbered on a hill south- 
west of Vionville, and rapidly shelled the French cavalry 

*General Decaen was mortally wounded at Borny. 

fAccompanied by large trains of personal baggage, luxurious 
mess equipages, and crowds of servants and adventurers, the army 
of Bazaine has with some severity been entitled the army of Darius. 

JThe II, X, IX, and IV. 



camp to the west of that village. Taken completely by sur- 
prise, the French squadrons galloped to the rear in com- 
plete disorder, and eventually re-formed behind the line 
of their infantry bivouacs at Rezonville. More to the east- 
ward, from the direction of Gorze, the 6th Cavalry Divi- 
sion now drove in the outposts in front of them, and com- 
pleted the arc of observation. Against the wide circle of 
cavalry, extending from the Bois de St. Arnold to the 
Tronville heights, the French infantry advanced to attack 
in lines radiating from the centre — Rezonville. At 10 
o'clock, at the extremities of the cavalry arc, the first 
Prussian infantry appeared on the ground — the 5th and 
6th Divisions of the III Corps. An immediate advance was 
made by these troops, and the villages of Flavigny and Vion- 
ville captured with heavy loss. At noon the French, act- 
ing generally on the defensive, occupied the heights west 
of Rezonville with two corps facing westward. Bazaine. 
apprehensive of being cut off from Metz, kept his reserves 
on the Gravelotte plateau. The French right (3rd and 4th 
Corps) were moving southward towards the line of battle. 
It will be seen that one German corps, preceded by two 
cavalry divisions, had thus placed themselves across the 
road in front of the whole French army. At 2 : 00 P. M. the 
French 3rd Corps came into action, and it was apparent 
that an advance was about to be made by the right of the 
French line. In order to effect delay, and give time for 
reinforcements to come up, a brigade of German cavalry 
was launched against the threatening troops, and their dar- 
ing charge, in spite of enormous loss, effected its object. 
At 3 o'clock the X Corps arrived in time to reinforce the 
threatened German left, and about the same time the 
French right was increased by the addition of the 4th 
Corps. The line of battle, which formerly stood nearly 
west, now faced due south. A series of attacks with vary- 
ing success were made by the newly arriving French troops, 
and finally led to a great cavalry engagement in the vicin- 
ity of Mars-la-Tour, for which both nations claim success. 
On the other side of the battle-field a desultory fight was 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

kept up as long as daylight lasted. The losses of the con- 
tending forces were very heavy — amounting on each side to 
about 16,000 men. 

The true importance of this day cannot be judged of 
by its tactical results. The Prussians had certainly not been 
able to drive the French out of their main positions; but, 
on the other hand, the French had not been able to recover 
the ground lost before noon, nor re-continue their march. 
The victory, however, clearly lay with the Germans in a 
strategical point of view. By a bold employment of their 
numerically inferior forces they had stopped the French 
retreat, and given time for their main body to effectually 
interpose between the junction of the two Marshals. Much 
criticism has been expended on the unnecessary delay under 
the eastern forts of Metz, and the time occupied in crossing 
the Moselle. It is difficult to understand why the northern 
route by Briey was not utilized. Every moment was of con- 
sequence, and to endeavor to march the greater part of a 
large army by one route out of Metz could only lead to great 
loss of time. There appears to have been an idea that an 
attack would be made to the northward by troops crossing 
the Moselle lower down than Metz. At the same time, it 
was well known that the bulk of the II Army was approach- 
ing the line of the Moselle above Metz, and common precau- 
tion might have suggested the destruction of the permanent 
bridges at Ars and Pont-a-Mousson. Bazaine (who took 
over the command of the army on the evening of the 12th) 
did not apparently realize the necessity of a retreat west- 
ward, but was more inclined to rest on Metz as a base from 
which offensive operations might be directed. This view 
was perhaps not unnatural, particularly when the weak 
state of the detached forts was considered; but still it was 
against the spirit of the orders he had received and mili- 
tated against their being effectively carried out. The 
French forces were considerably inferior in numbers to 
those of their adversaries, and the best hope of success lay 
in a retreat for the purpose of combination. It is diffi- 
cult to see why the fatal delay in marching off was per- 



mitted. Assuming that the previous loss of time was un- 
avoidable, the reason for a further stoppage seems insuffi- 
cient. The presence of the German cavalry was well known 
and if an uninterrupted retreat was desirable, every mo- 
ment was of value. Admitting that the 4th Corps was late 
in its appearance, this defect might still have been partially 
obviated by directing it to act as a rear guard on the more 
direct southern road, while the Guard could have been 
shifted to the more northern chaussee. When committeed 
to the engagement at Rezonville, why was a continuous 
defensive so sedulously maintained? The German troops, 
if attacked with the vigour naturally in accord with the 
French spirit, during the morning must have been defeated. 
Even in the afternoon, when their reinforcements came up, 
they were numerically much inferior to the troops of the 
Marshal. The bulk of the German forces were in the act 
of crossing the Moselle, and a vigorous effort directed 
southward must have driven back their leading troops in 
confusion, and possibly allowed the army to pursue its re- 
treat. A defensive line was, however, taken up instead, 
and the reserves kept on the left flank. Bazaine allows 
himself that he was afraid of being cut off from Metz ; but 
that surely cannot be admitted as a valid plea. His orders 
were to retreat on Verdun, and in natural concurrence with 
this would be a departure from Metz. The fear of leaving 
the fortress which he avowedly shows, demonstrates how 
completely he failed to realize the exigencies of the strate- 
gical situation. With regard to the bold attack of the III 
German Corps, it may be fairly questioned — despite most 
of the German accounts — whether its commander was at 
all aware of his having the whole French army in front of 
him. Throughout the battle the Germans laid themselves 
open to be beaten in detail, and that they were not so must 
be attributed more to the inaction of the French Marshal 
than to any tactical combination of their own. 

On the night of the 16th both armies bivouacked on 
the fiejd of battle, but at daybreak the French forces retired 
according to orders towards Metz — the retrograde move- 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

ment being adopted ostensibly on the ground of want of 
ammunition and food supplies. The army eventually took 
up a position on the continuous chain of heights to the east 
of and overlooking the Mance rivulet (extending from 
Rozerieulles to St. Privat-la-Montagne). On the evening 
of the 16th orders were issued for the concentration of 
the II Army on the battle-field. The III and X Corps, and_ 
a portion of the VIII and IX were already on the ground. 
There was little danger to be apprehended from a sortie 
from the fortress to the south or east, so the VII and VIII 
Corps of the I Army were ordered to cross the river and 
form with the IX the right of the bivouacked troops. The 
XII Corps and Guards were directed northward to the left 
of the line in the neighborhood of Mars-la-Tour. The I 
Corps was left as a precautionary measure on the right 
bank of the river, and the II Corps, which was somewhat 
in rear, hurried forward to Pont-a-Mousson. 

There was some uncertainty at the German Head- 
quarters as to whether the French intended to attempt 
pursuing their retreat by a more northerly route, or offer- 
ing a defensive battle under the forts of Metz. Equally 
prepared for either contingency, the order was given for 
an advance in echelon of corps from the left in a northerly 
direction, the XII Corps, leading, followed by the Guards 
and IX Corps, the X and III Corps following in second line. 
The VIII Corps was to move on the right rear of the IX 
and the VII still further to the right, forming the pivot 
in the case that a wheel to the right towards Metz should 
be necessary. 

The French position extended for 7 miles along the 
crest of an open and broad ridge, the western slope of 
which mostly fell with a gentle declivity. The left wing- 
was very strongly posted, owing to the nature of the 
ground and the protection afforded by the fort of St. 
Quentin and the Moselle valley. The right wing rested on 
no natural or artificial obstacle, and but few temporary 
arrangements were made for its protection, owing to the 
absence of engineering tools. The reserve was posted in 
rear of the left wing, 



As the German echeloned corps marched northward, 
covered by their cavalry scouts, it soon became apparent 
that the French had delayed their retreat and taken up a 
defensive position resting on Metz. Orders were accord- 
ingly issued to move up into line in order to attack, it 
being intended that the two leading corps (the VII and 
Guards) should envelop the French right flank. The sim- 
ultaneous assault on the whole of the front line was pre- 
vented principally from a misconception as to the limit to 
which the French defensive position extended, and the 
battle was commenced at midday by the artillery of the IX 
Corps. In order to afford support, the VI and VIII Ger- 
man Corps advanced against the left of the French line, 
while the left wing of the II Army continued its steady 
movement onward. The artillery of the Guards by 2 P.M. 
came into action on the left of the IX Corps, its infantry 
adyancing against St. Marie-aux-Chenes. At 5 o'clock the 
French army held intact its whole main position, after a 
frontal attack, chiefly of artillery, had been raging for 
five hours without intermission. Soon after this time an 
advance across the gently sloping glacis of St. Privat (the 
right of the French line) was made by the Prussian Guard, 
but was repulsed with heavy loss. The XII Corps by 6 :30 
o'clock eventually carried out its flank movement, and com- 
menced the attack of St. Privat from the north. A second 
advance — this time successful — was made at the same mo- 
ment by the Prussian Guard, and the French right was 
thrown back in utter confusion, just as darkness set in. 
Early on the 19th the beaten French troops took up their 
bivouacs in a concentrated position under the Metz forts. 

The objective of the two armies was at this period the 
same — an advance towards Paris — The French for the pur- 
pose of combination, the Germans to reach their natural 
goal, the Capital. If Bazaine could have left a sufficient 
garrison in Metz forts and have resumed his march, the 
double advantage would have been gained of detaining a 
large investing force round the fortress and uniting the 
two French armies. Success depended on the factor of 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

time; and how this element was on the one side frittered 
away in baneful hesitation, and on the other utilized to 
its fullest extent, is study replete with interest. 

On the 18th August retreat westward was impossible, 
unless preceded by a decided success, for the obtention of 
which it was obviously necessary that more than purely 
defensive measures should be taken, A defeat to the Ger- 
man forces might have been most disastrous, and it is a 
question whether Bazaine did not lose a valuable oppor- 
tunity in not taking the offensive against the centre of 
the allied line. Whether it was expedient for the Germans 
to accept battle at all is somewhat doubtful. The inter- 
ception of the French retreat was complete on the 16th, 
and the French General could only resume his march by 
becoming the assailant and laying himself open to be at- 
tacked in flank. In lieu of taking up the Amanvillers posi- 
tion, it has been suggested that Bazaine might have passed 
his troops through Metz to the right bank of the Moselle 
on the 17th and taken the offensive in a south-easterly direc- 
tion, pushing his army towards Strassburg and cutting the 
German communications. That this course was possible 
with a well-led army has been pretty generally admitted; 
but it is doubtful whether under the inferior direction that 
signalized the warfare round Metz any such attempt could 
have been successful. 

The position of the combatants in this battle is espe- 
cially striking. Each army was facing towards its orig- 
inal base — the Prussians having their back to Paris, while 
the French faced towards it. As at Rezonville, the dispo- 
sition of the French reserve seems very faulty, and to have 
arisen from an entire misconception of the value of the 
supporting fortress. If the Imperial Guard had been sent 
in time to the assistance of the right wing, it is very doubt- 
ful whether the turning movement of the Saxons would 
have resulted in success. 

The retreat of Bazaine having been effectually put a 
stop to, the next object of the German leaders was neces- 
sarily to make innocuous the flower of the French army, 



so recently beaten, while a rapid advance was made against 
the troops of MacMahon, Orders were accordingly issued 
by the King, on the morning of the 19th, detailing a certain 
number of corps (comprising the I Army, and the II, III, 
IX and X Corps of the II Army), for the duty of investing 
Metz ; while the Guards, IV, and XII Corps were constituted 
into a fourth Army,* destined to operate with the already 
advancing III Army against Chalons and Paris. A circle of 
investment about 32 miles in extent was formed outside 
effective range of the detached forts, and diligently 
strengthened by means of earthworks and obstacles. Owing 
to the heavy losses of the preceding days, the German corps 
were much reduced in numbers, and the investing force 
may be estimated at from 160 to 170,000 men — an effective 
the total of which was daily increasing, on account of the 
arrival of reinforcements. The army of Bazaine numbered 
about the same, inclusive of a large number of wounded 
and noncombatants. 

The III Army, in the meantime, had advanced nearly 
to the Meuse (south of Toul), and was awaiting the issue 
of the engagements about Metz. On the 19th it received 
orders to continue its march westward, and on the 20th 
the main body, in four columns, protected by cavalry on 
the left flank, had crossed the river. MacMahon's troops, 
consisting of the 1st, 5th, 7th, "and 12th Corps, were at this 
period at the camp of Chalons. 

Part II 

{20th August to 31st October) 


The original left wing of the French army, under 
the command of Marshal MacMahon, which was concen- 
trating since the middle of August at the camp of Chalons, 
consisted of the 1st, 5th, 7th, and 12th Corps, with the 
cavalry divisions of Bonnemain and Marguerite. Con- 

^Called the Army of the Meuse. 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

tinuous retreats and defective administration, had exer- 
cised a most demoralizing influence on the morale of the 
troops already engaged, but the newly formed 12th Corps 
contained an excellent nucleus of well-trained men hitherto 
unshaken by defeat. A futile endeavor was made to utilize 
the Parisian Gardes Mobiles, who proved mutinous and 
unmanageable, and were obliged to be sent back to their 
homes. At the capital itself two more corps (the 13th and 
14th) were in process of formation, though they were not 
organized in sufficient time to take the field. Exclusive of 
these last mentioned troops, the Army of Chalons had an 
effective on the 20th inst. of 120,000 men with 324 guns.* 

The position of the French General was undoubtedly a 
difficult one; on the one hand it was his object to cover 
the capital, on the other to assist Bazaine and enable him 
to break through the formidable circle of investment that 
surrounded him. To risk the defeat of his troops by offer- 
ing battle at Chalons would be dangerous, and but tempo- 
rarily check the German advance ; to retreat on Paris would 
undoubtedly lead to the fall of the Napoleonic dynasty, the 
prestige of which was already severely shaken. The 
exigencies of the political situation demanded an attempt 
to succour Bazaine, while purely military grounds dictated 
the necessity of a retirement to the capital. The plan of 
campaign suggested by the War Ministry was to advance in 
three main columns through the Argonne towards Ver- 
dun, and thus gain the valley of the Meuse. Such an opera- 
tion could only be effected by making a flank march be- 
tween the III German Army and the Belgian frontier, and 
incurring the risk of a simultaneous attack on front and 
flank. Taking the most favorable view, it might possibly 
lead to the corps of the Meuse Army being beaten in detail, 
and as a probabl|^ consequence enforce the raising of the 
Metz investment. The hazardous nature of such a move- 
ment, combined with the fact that in case of Bazaine break- 
ing out southwards it would be perfectly futile, was fully 

*0n the 25th, 408 guns and 84 mitrailleuses, the total number 
of combatants being slightly increased. 



apparent. The absence of the authentic information as to 
the exact position in which the army of the Rhine was placed 
increased the difficulties of the situation and MacMahon, 
to temporarily escape his dilemma, determined on the 
medium course of marching on Rheims, to take up a posi- 
tion which would enable him to await the development of 
the enemy's plans, and at the same time flank the direct 
approaches on Paris. 

On the 21st the march northward was commenced, the 
camp being evacuated in such haste that large stores of 
food, forage and clothing had to be burnt. On the morning 
of the 22nd a telegram from Bazaine, stating that he be- 
lieved he could continue his retreat in a north-westerly di- 
rection through Montmedy, was received, and led to the can- 
celling of previously issued orders for retirement towards 
Paris.* Influenced by this despatch, and fortified by the 
unanimous opinion of the War Ministry, the Marshal start- 
ed in column of corps on the morning of the '23rd in a north- 
easterly direction towards Dun and Stenay,t having pre- 
viously warned Bazaine of his movement.^ In consequence 
of the difficulties experienced in feeding the troops, it was 
found necessary to approach the line of railway, and the 
whole of the 25th was occupied in rationing the army in 
their bivouacs at Vouziers-Rethel. 

Whilst the I and II German Armies were taking part in 
the decisive struggles before Metz, the III Army was ad- 
vancing slowly westward on the capital. Its main body had 
crossed the Meuse on the 20th of August, the three leading 
corps having reached the line of the Ornain. To co-operate 

*This despatch was dated 19th August, and written the morning 
after the battle of Gravelotte. It appears there was also a sec- 
ond telegram, couched in somewhat less hopeful language, dated the 
20th August, which MacMahon declares he did not receive. As a 
duplicate of this second message (which Col. Stoffel was accused of 
intercepting), did not strike the Parisian War Ministry as containing 
any additional information, it is difficult to conceive why so much im- 
portance has been attached to it. (Vide "Proces Bazaine. La de- 
peche du Vingt Aont," by Stoffel.) 

fThe direct route through Verdun being already intercepted. 

JA duplicate of this despatch reached Metz on the 30th August, 
and led to the sortie towards Noisseville the following day. 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

with these troops, three army corps were — as before men- 
tioned — detached from the forces investing Bazaine, and 
formed what was called the Army of the Meuse, under the 
command of the Crown Prince of Saxony. The III Army 
was obliged temporarily to halt, to allow this new body — 
which started from the Gravelotte plateau on the 19th — to 
come up into line. The entire German force destined for 
the advance on Paris was eventually, on the evening of the 
22nd, in a line facing west extending from Etain to Gondre- 
court (50) miles ; the Meuse Army forming the right wing, 
and the cavalry on the left being pushed forward as far as 
the Marne valley. Aware that the French forces were in 
the vicinity of Chalons, the advance was continued on a 
broad front in a westerly direction. On the 24th the gen- 
eral line of Verdun — St. Dizier was reached ; on the 25th 
that of Dombasle — Vitry, the cavalry of the right wing be- 
ing pushed through the Argonne to St. Menehould. 

Reviewing for the moment the position at this date, 
it will be seen that a French army of more than 100,000 
men was moving eastward towards Montmedy, while the 
Prussian forces, two days' march to the south and unaware 
of the circumstance, were marching westward towards 
Paris. The first information the Germans received of the 
evacuation of the Chalons camp arrived late on the night of 
the 24th, in the form of a telegram, which stated that Mac- 
mahon had taken up a position at Rheims, and was about to 
relieve Bazaine. As the direct road to Metz was barred by 
the Meuse army, it was obvious that the only means of car- 
rying out such a plan would entail a hazardous flank march 
in close proximity to the Belgian frontier. As this seemed 
a somewhat improbable course, the German leaders con- 
tented themselves with directing their general line of ad- 
vance in a north-westerly direction towards Rheims. 

MacMahon, on the other hand, was on the 21st un- 
doubtedly aware of the existence, numbers, and general sit- 
uation of both the German armies. His flank march was 
made with a full knowledge of the danger incurred, and it 
was easily apparent that its only chance of success lay in 



extreme rapidity of execution. The delays at Rheims and 
Rethel had already imperilled the movement, and the fur- 
ther causes that led to the disaster of Sedan can be best 
traced by following the movements of both armies for the 
next few days. 

On the 26th, the French army wheeled leisurely to the 
right on the pivot of Vouziers, for the purpose of advanc- 
ing in two main columns on the Beaumont and Buzancy 
roads. In the afternoon, the cavalry of the right column 
(7th Corps, under Douay) reported the presence of hostile 
troops at Grand Pre, and this corps, in consequence, formed 
up in battle order, somewhat unnecessarily, at Vouziers. 

Owing to information received late on the 25th as to 
the movements of MacMahon, provisional orders were is- 
sued to both German armies, depending on the reports to 
be brought in by reconnoitering cavalry. As a result, the 
Meuse Army changing its front, moved northward in anti- 
cipation, and with its leading troops reached Varennes. 
The III Army closed in their corps to their right flank, so 
as to be ready either to advance toward Rheims or follow 
the movement of the Saxon Crown Prince. Covering these 
changes of direction, the cavalry extended in arc from Dun 
to Chalons ; their persistence and daring forming a strong 
contrast with the inaction of their opponents. 

Apprehensive of an attack from the south, MacMahon 
moved three of his corps into the line Vouziers-Buzancy ; 
but as no attack was made, counter-orders were issued for 
the resumption of the march in a northeasterly direction. 
Resulting from these conflicting movements, but little 
ground was gained on this day. 

From the reports of the German cavalry, the presence 
of hostile troops of all arms at Vouziers and Buzancy was 
clearly established, and the orders for a march northward 
accordingly confirmed. The Meuse Army seized with its 
leading corps the river passages at Dun and Stenay, while 
the III Army, a long day's march in rear, reached with its 
advanced troops the line Clermont-St. Menehould. 

In view of the threatening advance of the enemy, a re- 
treat northward was determined on, and the relief of Ba- 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

zaine abandoned. Unfortunately, the persistence of the 
War Ministy again constrained MacMahon to a course op- 
posed to his military judgment and counter orders were is- 
sued for a continued advance eastward. The objective of 
Montmedy was clearly pointed out to the corps comman- 
ders, and the necessity of seizing the bridges over the 
Meuse at Stenay and Mouzon insisted upon. These con- 
stantly changing instructions led naturally to much discom- 
fort and confusion; the roads were encumbered with bag- 
gage and provision columns in inextricable disorder, and 
but short marches were made at nightfall the 5th Corps 
reached Bois-des-Dames (south of Beaumont) on the south- 
ern road, and XII Corps the neighborhood of Stonne on the 
northern, the two corps in rear gaining the line of the Bar. 

The IV Army meanwhile moved up its rearmost corps 
along the left bank of the Meuse, still holding the river pas- 
sages with its advanced troops, while the III Army steadily 
advanced up the valley of the Aisne. 

On the evening of the 28th information was received 
that Stenay was occupied in force by Saxon troops, and the 
bridge blown up. As the army of Chalons had no pontoon 
train, it was decided to retire northward, making use of the 
bridges at Mouzon and Remilly and eventually gaining Metz 
through Carignan. 

The troops on the northern road were unmolested, but 
the 7th Corps, harassed in rear by cavalry and impeded by 
bad roads, only succeeded in reaching Oches — half its des- 
tined march. The 5th Corps (owing to the capture of the 
officer carrying the order for retreat) continued its march 
on Stenay, was attacked by the Saxons at Nouart, and re- 
tired fighting, eventually reaching Beaumont much disor- 
ganized by its night march. 

On the German side there was a general tendency for 
the Meuse Army to halt till the III Army came up into the 
line Grand Pre-Dun, the French movements being watched 
by cavalry. The XII Corps was, however, pushed somewhat 
forward, and brought on the action above alluded to. Both 
German armies completed their deployment in the evening, 

Extract ""-^.^ ""^^ 

and between the Meuse and the Argonne six corps stood 
ready for advance northward — a general forward movement 
towards Beaumont being projected for the following day. 

To effect the passage of the Meuse at all risks with the 
greatest promptitude was the burden of the French in- 
structions. In spite of the efforts of the staff, the troops 
on the northern road, though unmolested, did not succeed 
in crossing at Remilly till late at night.* The columns on 
the southern road were still more unfortunate, and had to 
pay the inevitable penalty of mismanagement. The 5th 
Corps, owing to the fatiguing countermarches of the last 
few days, and the demoralizing effect of the night retreat 
it had just concluded, was very tardy in its movements, 
and shortly after noon was brusquely awakened from a 
fancied security by vigorous shell fire. It appears that De 
Failly, its commander, was under the impression that the 
German forces were marching towards Stenay, and that his 
retirement would be uninterrupted. As a fact, the whole 
German armies were advancing down the Meuse, expecting 
to find MacMahon in a defensive position ; and it was some 
of the batteries of the Meuse Army that spread such con- 
sternation through the bivouacs at Beaumont. The advance 
of the XII and I Bavarian Corps into line rendered a re- 
treat through the village compulsory, and the position tak- 
en up north of Beaumont had to be relinquished with heavy 
loss. Pressed in front and flank by superior numbers, De 
Failly retreated fighting on Mouzon — a movement much 
facilitated by the woody and intersected nature of the 
ground. Eventually the river was crossed, under the pro- 
tection of a portion of the 12th Corps, after severe losses 
had been sustained. 

The 7th Corps, harassed in rear by cavalry, left its 
camping grounds at Oches at 9 a. m,, and marched by two 
roads to the river. The rear of its leading division, mis- 
taking its way, approached close to Beaumont, and was 
utterly routed by the advancing troops of the I Bavarians. 

*The 1st Corps — the 12th having crossed at Mouzon the previous 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

The main body of the corps, after a tiresome march, crossed 
the river late at night at Remilly. Under the influence of 
the defeats sustained by his rearmost troops, MacMahon 
gave orders for an immediate retreat on Sedan, for the pur- 
pose of procuring them food, ammunition, and rest. 
Throughout the night troops of 2CII arms, intermingled pell- 
mell, strove each man for himself to reach the required 
destination, and early the next morning the greater portion 
of the French army was bivouacked in an exhausted con- 
dition around the fortress. 

The two German armies, in a concentrated mass on the 
left bank of the Meuse, occupied meanwhile with their lead- 
ing troops the line of Mouzon-Raucourt. 

The French fugitives came pouring into Sedan from 
both banks of the river during the early morning. The 12th 
Corps, which was somewhat in rear, did not arrive at Ba- 
zeilles till 9 a. m., when it was fired on from the opposite 
bank of the Meuse. A brisk contest with some Bavarian 
troops was carried on, finally resulting in the railway bridge 
being left intact in the enemy's hands. The 1st Corps, 
which had acted as rear guard, made from mistaken orders 
a circuitous march, and did not reach its camping ground 
till late at night. 

It was apparently intended to give the troops rest dur- 
ing this day, as no arrangements were made or orders 
given for further movement. Several courses were open 
now to the French commander — either to break out towards 
Carignan and Metz, retire on to Belgian soil, retreat towards 
Mezieres, or fight in the positions already taken up. Of 
these undoubtedly the retreat westward was most in favour, 
and it was considered that plenty of time was still available 
for its execution. 

The 13th Corps, which had been forwarded from Paris 
under the command of General Vinoy, was assembhng at 
this time at Mezieres. 

The German armies continued their march northward, 
detaching two corps (XII and Guard) to the right bank of 
the Meuse, in order to bar the space between that river and 



the frontier. On the evening of the 31st the contending 
forces were facing one another with their advanced troops 
in immediate contact. The badly conceived flank march of 
Macmahon had, owing to defective organization, utterly 
failed, and his army now stood assembled in a curve round 
the small fortress of Sedan. Pressing it back against the 
neutral Belgian frontier, advanced the numerically superior 
German forces, deployed on a broad front. 

The position taken up by the French was tactically a 
strong one, and well calculated to ensure a stubborn de- 
fence. Its eastern boundary was formed by the valley of 
the Givonne, from the western heights of which effective 
fire could be maintained over any direct approach. Continu- 
ous ranges of hills formed parallel lines of defence to the 
north-west, and the south and west were protected by the 
broad valley of the Meuse. The fortress of Sedan, com- 
manded by the higher ground on the opposite side of the 
river, was but of little defensive value. Two corps overlooked 
the Givonne valley facing east, one corps (the 7th), faced 
north-west on the Illy plateau, the remaining 5th Corps, 
under De Failly forming the reserve. In order to advance 
against the position from the west, a detour had to be made 
round the bend of the Meuse, through a single road pre- 
senting the characteristics of a defile. The country lying to 
the north was hilly and intersected, but towards the east 
was practicable for large bodies of troops. 

In accordance with orders, the German forces moved 
forward to the attack during the early morning of Septem- 
ber 1st. Three army corps moved from the eastward 
against the Givonne position, while two crossed the Meuse 
at Donchery and advanced towards the Sedan-Mezieres 
road. South of the fortress, on the opposite side of the 
river, one corps kept guard.* 

*Towards Givonne Valley. — Guard, XII and I Bavarian. 

Towards Sedan-Mezieres Road. — V and XI Corps. 

Watching southern exit. — II Bavarian. 

In Reserve. — IV Corps, Wurtemburg Division, and four cavalry 

The VI Corps and 6th Cavalry Division remained in rear near 

Vouziers, covering the left flank. 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

It will thus be evident that two distinct attacks were 
to take place — one on each flank of the French lines. No 
special orders appear to have been issued for this day by 
MacMahon, it being intended to give a rest to the troops, 
and eventually lead them either to Carignan or Mezieres, 
according to force of circumstances. 

The engagement commenced at an early hour in the 
morning by an attack of the I Bavarian Corps on Bazeilles 
— the village, occupied by the French right, which was 
shelled the previous evening. After six hours desperate 
fighting the town was captured, and accruing reinforce- 
ments led to the French being forced back to the heights 
south of Fond-de-Givonne. Between Bazeilles and Daigny 
the XII Corps (Saxons) entered into line, while further 
north the Prussian Guard captured the village of Givonne. 
By noon the whole of the Givonne Valley was in German 
hands, the French holding the general line of the western 
crest. This loss of ground was mainly attributable to un- 
fortunate changes in the supreme direction. Marshal Mac- 
Mahon, wounded in the early morning, handed over the 
command to General Ducrot, who at once issued orders for a 
withdrawal westward, with a view to immediate retreat on 
Mezieres. General Wimpfen, a senior ofllicer, considering 
the retreat impracticable, countermanded the movement 
whilst in process of execution, and endeavored to re-occupy 
the valley, in order to make an offensive sortie towards 

On the western side, the V and XI Corps crossed the 
Meuse at Donchery and advanced through Vrigne-au-Bois 
skirting the bend made by the Meuse. 

The artillery of both corps d'armee came into action on 
the hills north of Floing, and canonaded the position held 
by the 7th Corps under Douay. As the infantry came up, 
they deployed along the heights and pressed forward strong- 
ly, especially against the French left at Floing. This vil- 
lage was carried, after hard fighting, and a general ad- 
vance made against the French line. The cavalry of Mar- 
guerite's Division sacrificed themselves in a vain attempt 
to turn the fortune of the day, and the troops of Douay 



gave way in all directions. On the eastern side the French 
were also losing ground, and the German right and left 
wing pushed forward north till they came in contact. 

On the south side of the fortress, the batteries on the 
opposite bank of the Meuse were during the battle firing at 
long ranges on the reserves and large fugitive bodies. 

By 3 o'clock the circle of investment was complete, and 
overwhelmed by the fire of nearly 500 guns, the French 
retreated in confusion to the nearest cover. A bold sortie 
towards Bazeille was attempted, but with little success, 
and by 4 o'clock all the main positions had been abandoned. 
To show the futility of further resistance, the guns of the 
victorious army were turned on the mass of fugitives in- 
side the fortress, and about 5 o'clock the white flag of sur- 
render was hoisted on the Citadel. 

Negotiations were carried on with a view to capitula- 
tion^ng'the night, and the terms finally arranged by 11 a, 
m., the following day, by which the French Emperor and 
83,000 men became prisoners of war.* 

The ten days' campaign against the Army of Chalons 
forms one of the most striking episodes of the war of inva- 
sion. The plan projected in Paris for the relief of Bazaine 
was undoubtedly bold in its conception, though difficult to 
defend on strategical grounds. To successfully evade the 
blow of the advancing German armies by a flank march, two 
conditions were necessary, sufficient time to gain a fair 
start, and ample space to carry out the movement in. When 
the advance was made from Chalons, the most northern 
German corps was in the vicinity of Verdun, a march had 
to be effected through the narrow band of territory ex- 
tending between that fortress and the neutral Belgian fron- 
tier. Assuming the greatest expedition to have been used, 
it would have been impossible, under ordinary circum- 

f Killed 3,000 

*In the Battle ; Wovmded 14,000 

[ Prisoners 21,000 

Prisoners at Capitulation 83,000 

Disarmed in Belgium 3,000 

Total 124,000 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

stances, to escape the notice of the cavah-y of the Meuse 
Army, and contact between the contending forces would 
have taken place, in any case, more to the eastward in the 
vicinity of Montmedy, Etain, or Thionville. If an extensive 
territory had existed to the northward, it might have been 
possible to make a long detour and successfully avoid ob- 
servation ; but the limited zone for maneuvering forbade 
hope of any such advantage. To gain the requisite time on 
the enemy, it was necessary to draw him further away from 
Metz, either towards Paris or the south, or by a feint de- 
ceive him temporally as to the projected movement. As 
it happened, the German armies were in a central position, 
and were enabled to take advantage of the lesser space they 
had to traverse on the interior lines they occupied. In ad- 
dition to the strategical difficulties of the situation, the 
Army of Chalons was not in that thoroughly prepared state 
to make it equal to the requirement demanded of it. In 
spite of these unfavorable circumstances partial success 
was at one time by no means impossible. On the 25th Au- 
gust the French army of over 100,000 men was on the flank 
of the German advance, and might, if expedition had been 
have beaten in detail the northern corps of the Meuse 
Army. Whether Metz could have been reached is a matter 
of opinion, but undoubtedly a well-timed sortie from Ba- 
zaine would have given an impulse towards success. To 
an army incapable from its nature of rapid maneuvering, 
the safest movement was assuredly towards the fortified 
capital, where a prolonged stand might be counted on and 
an investment rendered nearly impossible. As, however, in 
the political situation this course was impolitic, it would 
seem that a retreat to the north-west through Rheims, 
drawing the German army after it, would have been advis- 
able. If a forward movement towards Metz was a neces- 
sity, it would have been safer to make a detour southward 
and endeavor to conceal the movement by a feint towards 
the northern Argonne. Paris would have been left to de- 
fend itself (as it was afterwards compelled to do) with the 
nucleus of regular troops it possessed, and the further ad- 



vance of the German forces been endangered by the posi- 
tion of a powerful field army on their flank. The deplorable 
slowness of the marching and the insufficient scouting of 
the cavalry, that led to the surprises at Nouart and Beau- 
mont have already been alluded to, and combined with the 
want of unanimity in direction, formed a series of secon- 
dary faults that conducted in no small measure to the dis- 
astrous capitulation. 

The unfortunate delay at Sedan on the 31st is not easy 
to understand. The retreat on Mezieres would have been 
practicable on the following day, according to MacMahon's 
opinion ; but it is inexplicable that (as a precautionary meas- 
ure) more care was not taken in destroying the permanent 
bridges over the Meuse and scouting along the flank of the 
projected movement with cavalry. The successive changes 
in the supreme direction during the engagement undoubted- 
ly influenced its result ; but, at the same time, the order of 
battle was in itself defective, as it did not cover the line 
of retreat. 

It has been maintained that the German strategy was 
over cautious, and that a portion of their forces might have 
been, after the 25th of August, detached towards Paris. It 
is diflficult, however, to see what advantage could have been 
gained. The French capital was too strongly fortified to 
have been taken by storm, and the great advantage of nu- 
merical superiority over the sole French army in the field 
would have been thrown away. With a portion of the Im- 
perial army closely invested at Metz, and the remainder 
compelled to capitulate, no further obstacle opposed itself 
to an advance on Paris. Within an hour after the capitula- 
tion was signed, orders were issued for the march west- 
ward, the I Bavarian and XI Corps being left behind in 
charge of the prisoners, for the conveyance of whom to 
Pont-a-Mousson and Etain arrangements were at once made. 
At these two places they were despatched for internment 
in Germany. 

The first measure to be effected was the opening out of 
the two armies from their closely concentrated position 


Precis of the Franco-German War 

round Sedan. The order of march had been somewhat in- 
verted, the lines of communication of several corps having 
crossed, and this inconvenient displacement had to be recti- 
fied. The III Army started in a south-westerly direction 
to gain its former position on the left flank, while the Saxon 
Crown Prince with slower marches advanced westward. By 
regulating the length of the stages the different corps re- 
gained their respective positions in line, and on the 15th the 
whole force, preceded by four cavalry divisions, occupied 
a line 30 miles to the east of Paris, extending on both banks 
of the Marne from Villers-Cotterets to Rozony-en-Brie. 

As a result of the catastrophe of Sedan, the French em- 
pire was overturned by a bloodless revolution on the 4th 
September, and a Provisional Government formed for the 
national defence, under the presidency of General Trochu. 


Part II 

German Accounts 

Order of Battle of the German Armies on the 1st 

August 1870 Under the Supreme Command of 

H. M. King William of Prussia 

Headquarters of H. M. King William 

Federal Chancellor and Minister President: Major-General Count 
V. Bismarck-Schonhausen. 

Chief of the General Staff of the Army: General of Infantry 
Baron V. Moltke. 

Quartermaster General : Lieutenant-General v. Podbielski. 

Inspector General of Artillery: General of Infantry v. Hinder. 

Inspector General of Engineers: Lieutenant-General v. Kleist. 

Adjutant General to H. M. the King: General of Infantry v. 

Principal Adjutant and Chief of the Military Cabinet: Lieuten- 
ant-General V. Tresckow. 

Intendant General of the Army: Lieutenant-General v. Stosch. 

General attached to H. M. Staff: Major-General v. Steinacker. 

General Staff 

Adjutants to the Chief of the General Staff of the Army: (1) 
Major de Claer, attached to 13th Dragoons; (2) 1st Lieutenant v. 
Burt, 60th Regiment. 

Chiefs of Sections: (1) Lieutenant-Colonel Bronsard v. Schellen- 
dorf; (2) Lieutenant-Colonel v. Verdy du Vernois; (3) Lieutenant- 
Colonel V. Brandenstein. 

War Ministry 

Ministry for Foreign Affairs 

War Minister : General of Infantry v. Roon. 
Chief of Staff: Lieutenant-Colonel Hartrott. 

Summary of Forces (1st August) 

1st Army 

lid Army 

Hid Army 

Other field troops 

Total ot German Armies 


























Moltke's Correspondence 




Master Signal Electrician, U.S.A. 


General von Moltke's first work concerning location and position 
of the Prussian forces in a probable war between France and Ger- 
many was written in 1857, when that general was detailed as chief of 
the general staff of the army. In that year an assembly of the Ger- 
man Confederation in Frankfurt on the Main had under consideration 
conditions of the garrison of the Confederate fortress of Rastatt. 
Being requested by the minister of war, Count v. Waldersee, to give 
his opinion concerning the right of Prussia to participate in the gar- 
risoning of that fortress and concerning the advisability of abandon- 
ing Landau as a Confederation fortress and constituting Germersheim 
as such, General v. Moltke composed the following memorial, which 
also considered in its scope the possibility of a war with France: 


Berlin, 28 November, 1857. 

The military frontier between Germany and France 
diyides itself into two main sectors ; one, the line of the 
Rhine from the Wesel to Mayence, made extraordinarily 
strong by numerous fortresses, and the other, the line from 
Mayence to Switzerland, which is protected only by the 
fortresses of Germersheim and Rastatt and the Black For- 

In case of war between France and Germany it is al-^ 
most certain that the French main attack will be made on 
the line Strassburg — Ulm, while a secondary deployment 


Moltke's Correspondence 

of forces from direction of Metz and Valenciennes will be 
made in the hope of containing the Prussian forces on the 
lower Rhine. 

Not counting on the neutrality of Belgium and the at- 
titude of the Netherlands, the chain of fortresses along the 
Rhine forms a serious obstacle to an advance farther north. 
On the other hand, the ease wiith which France can con- 
centrate an enormous mass of troops at Strassburg, and 
the projected building of a permanent bridge there across 
the Rhine, the splitting up of SoutherYi Germany into small 
states and before all the isolation of the Vllth and Vlllth 
German Confederation Corps, leaves no doubt but that 
France will be successful at the start in this very theater 
of operations. 

Existing conditions clearly define Prussia's attitude 
in case of a French attack. 

Two army corps, presupposing that they are mobihzed 
at the proper time, will dispute possession of the advantage- 
ous terrain on the left bank of the Rhine with the opponent 
until the mass of our forces and the Xth Confederation 
Corps are concentrated between Cologne and Mayence. Two 
hundred thousand men then will enable us to relieve Jiilich 
and Saarlouis and to take the offensive, be that on the right 
or the left bank of the Rhine, which at the same time will 
call a halt to any advance of the enemy into Southern 

It was just this view of things and of course the firm 
confidence in the power of Prussia and in its good will 
which, in 1831, caused the South German States to send the 
Vllth and Vlllth Confederation Corps not to the Lech 
(thereby leaving themselves unprotected), but to the Main, 
where an army was there concentrating numbering at least 
300,000 men, while one Prussian and the IXth Confedera- 
tion Corps assembled at Bamberg as a reserve. 

Since then conditions have changed. Prussia is no 
longer regarded in the same light, and Austria's influence 
In Germany has increased. The fortified places Ulm, Ras- 
tatt and Germersheim give the South German States greater 
independence. As far back as 1853 Austria, supposing a 


Preparations for War 

threatened attack by France, insisted that Germany take a 
combined, so-called central, position on the Main. 

The Vllth and Vlllth Confederation Corps, from Ba- 
varia, Wiirtemberg, Baden and the Grand Duchy of Hesse, 
are to assemble between Germersheim, Rastatt and Stutt- 
gart, and the theater of war is to be prepared on the central 
Rhine by a fortified camp, the cost of which is estimated at 
12 million gulden. Austria says it will send 150,000 men 
there in the shortest time possible, and follow these up with 
50,000 reserves. It approved the location and position of 
the Prussian and of the IXth and Xth Confederation Corps. 

As a matter of fact these are two central stations with 
entirely diverging lines of retreat. Still Prussia will al- 
ways have its own army and its separate theater of war, 
which, for defensive purposes, is bounded by the Main. 

The organization of the Prussian army, its readiness 
for war and Prussia's own interests guarantee that Prussia 
will be on the Main with all available forces within six or 
eight weeks. 

In the convention Austria declared that, under unfavor- 
able circumstances, it would take twelve weeks to concen- 
trate 120,000 men on the Rhine. It is of course true that the 
completion of the railroads from Linz via Munich, Ulm and 
Stuttgart will facilitate matters, but in this case not only 
is the distance a great factor, but also the time required by 
Austria to organize new formations, especially should it 
have greatly reduced its army in the meantime. 

If France has decided on an attack on Germany, that 
attack will be in the nature of a surprise. 

In time of peace there are some 150,000 men garri- 
soned between Paris and the northwestern frontier ; Strass- 
burg is connected by rail with Metz, Paris and Lyons and is 
but half the distance from Stuttgart as from Munich 
and Nuremburg, the southern central position between 
Stuttgart and Rastatt — therefore Germersheim would be 
entirely too near the hostile frontier to serve as a point of 
concentration. Only if Austria places an army before or 
at the outbreak of war on the upper Rhine, may the South 
German States hope to directly protect their domains. If 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Austria does not do this, the retrograde movement of the 
Vllth and Vlllth Confederation Corps will come to a stop 
in favorable conditions at Ulm, and possibly only behind the 
Lech or still farther to the rear. 

An impartial estimate of the situation would lead the 
South German Governments therefore to the conclusion that 
their immediate succor may be found in Prussia and that 
the first retreat must be directed not eastward but north- 
ward towards the Main. 

Prussia's position on the Rhine protects Northern 
Germany. If Austria can not take over this role of pro- 
tection for Southern Germany, then the fortified places 
there will have to rely on their own resources. 

Considered from a mere military point of view, it does 
not appear desirable that Prussia should extend its original 
position beyond the Main, and we can but designate it a dis- 
advantage if we would weaken our forces in the field — al- 
ready much exhausted by participation in garrisoning fort- 
resses — by an additional or new participation in garrison- 
ing a Confederation fortress in Southern Germany. 

But, if political conditions imperatively require a par- 
ticipation in the peace garrisoning, then sight must not be 
lost of the fact that just Rastatt may be invested in the 
first few days after the outbreak of war and threatened by 
a formal investment. 

This is almost certain considering the proximity of 
this fortress to the left flank of the probable hostile line of 
operations, the supplies now in Strassburg, and the facility 
of communications. To draw off the Prussian garrison in 
such an event will only lead to the loss of the fortress. In 
case of an unfortunate outcome Prussia will have to bear 
all the blame. 

Landau and Germersheim are a little closer to the 
Prussian central position and can therefore be more easily 

If we have the choice whether to make one or the other 
of these places a Confederation fortress, we undoubtedly 


Preparations for War 

will decide on Germersheim*, it being, provided the garrison 
is equally strong, a better point and of more strategical im- 
portance on account of its position on the Rhine. It is 
evident that Landau, after Germersheim has been properly 
fortified, will be of little importance to the general interest 
of the German Confederation, considering that it is sur- 
rounded by dominating hills, that it can be reached directly 
from Strassburg over an unprotected railroad, and that it 
covers or protects no material sector. 

Still, as in the case of Rastatt, the same holds good for 
Landau, i.e., none of the Prussian troops stationed there 
in peace can be diverted from there in case of outbreak of 

In how far these mere military disadvantages may be 
offset by permanent political interests of peace, has to be 
decided by higher authority. 

The following memorial of October 1858 seeks, in connection with 
an exposition of the relation of Germany to its smaller neighboring 
States, to outline Prussia's primary military measures in a probable 
war with France. 


Berliyi, October 1858. 

I. Military — Political Conditions 

It is not possible to state accurately the attitude of 
two large powers in the event of outbreak of war, even if 
only in general outlines, without at the same time paying 
proper attention to the military-political situation of the 
smaller states adjoining the theater of war. 

In case of war between France and Germany the 
Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Sardinia would 
have to be considered. 

*H. R. H. the Prince Regent of Prussia made the following no- 
tation in the margin: "This point of view, originated by me, is just 
now very important to Prussia and should be pressed in the convention, 
that is, to insist on Prussia's right of transferring the garrison of 
Landau to Germersheim and to enlarge it already in time of peace 
and thus to transfer to another field the entire question of the fortress 
of Rastatt." 


Moltke's Correspondence 

The Netherlands are apparently outside of the probable 
theater of war — only Maastricht and Luxemburg being 
within it. The main point to consider is whether it would 
be friendly or hostile to Belgium. It is confined to a 
strictly defensive attitude, which is also favored by the con- 
ditions of the terrain. 

It is true that a Dutch army might appear offensively 
from this state (which is hard to traverse and is protected 
by streams and overflows and is not endangered on any 
side) and to defend — in conjunction with Belgium and 
Prussia — its domain more surely outside its frontiers. But 
the state of the Dutch army makes it impossible to count 
on success in a campaign. 

Undoubtedly the Schiitterie (i. e. the Netherlands 
Militia), supported by line troops, may help to defend the 
half ruined fortresses, the dikes and dams of the father- 
land against invasion. 

Considering the actual strength of the army in winter 
time — 10,000 men — the mobile army can hardly amount 
to more than 30,000 men. And for this organization there 
is an absence of necessary cadres and equipment. The 
greater part of the men only serve four months with the 
colors. Cavalry horses can be obtained only from Hanover 
and Oldenburg and that requires six months time. Only 
the artillery is up to date. 

Under these circumstances it seems certain that the 
intention is to merely defend the so-called Utrecht line. 
Bergen, Breda and Herzogenbusch are already considered 
merely as advanced posts and Maastricht, so important for 
the entire Rhine country, is to be abandoned. It appears 
that the defensive works at that place are intentionally 
allowed to deteriorate and that the munitions of war stored 
there are being transferred. 

It is doubtful whether or not the king of the Nether- 
lands, as a German Confederation Prince, will, under these 
conditions, furnish his contingent for Luxemburg. It 
would not be at all improbable, that Prussia would have to 
take over the defense of this important place by itself and 


Preparations for War 

even have to occupy Maastricht in order to prevent it from 
becoming a French depot to serve as a base for an advance 
towards the Rhine. 

It is hardly to be expected that Holland would take 
sides against Germany in order to regain, with the help of 
France, Belgium or a part of it. In such a case we may 
certainly count on Belgium to fulfill its obligation under 
the treaty of the Confederation. 

To occupy Holland at the very start by Prussian troops, 
to make sure of having in our possession the very rich 
sources of supplies offered by that country, would mean an 
unjustifiable splitting up of our forces and would undoubt- 
edly lead to war with England. 

Belgium, since gaining its independence, has made 
more progress than any other European State. In spite 
of its different elements there has arisen a strong feeling 
of nationality. The original feeling of absolutely necessary 
dependence on France no longer exists. Belgium sees in 
France its only actual enemy to its national independence; 
it considers England, Prussia and even Holland as its best 

If we respect Belgium's neutrality we would protect 
thereby the largest part of our western frontier. 

It is of course true that France can concentrate with 
ease and in the shortest time a large army at our immediate 
frontier in Metz. Still, operations against the lower Rhine 
require a broader base, which can be furnished only by 
Belgium. As it is not probable that Belgium will ally 
itself with France, France's first step will always be to in- 
vade that country in order to take serious measures against 

To protect its neutrality, Belgium intends to organize 
a force of 100,000 men. Peace measures, however, have 
not been taken in such a manner as to allow us to hope that 
it could put an efficient army in the field. The Belgian 
fortresses require an army of 40,000 men. Entirely aban- 
doning the rest of the country and the capital, it is the in- 
tention to concentrate the rest of the army in a fortified 


Moltke's Correspondence 

camp at Antwerp and to make a stand there until outside 
support arrives. 

Considering the extended net of railroads it is possible 
that in a very short time 50,000 to 60,000 men — the larger 
part of them being reserves — can be assembled, who have 
served but a few months. The cavalry will be very inferior 
and the artillery will form the best part of the army. 

But even if this army occupies the best permanent 
works, help for it must not be too long delayed. There is 
no hope to expect such help from Holland. 

England's army is in India and will be required there 
for years to come. Even if 10,000 to 15,000 British can 
make a landing at Ostend or Nieuport, which is very diffi- 
cult, or even if their ships go as far as Antwerp, that would 
not mean that it would be possible to proceed offensively 
against a French army. 

Belgium can expect help only from Prussia. 

But for this purpose the fortified camp at Antwerp is 
badly chosen. With the means which remain in the open 
field to the Vllth and Vlllth Prussian Army Corps after 
occupying the Rhine and Confederation fortresses, and 
eventually also Maastricht and Venloos, there is no chance 
of direct support within twenty miles [German miles=4^ 
English miles]. Now, however, the recommendations of 
the government to build a fortified camp at Antwerp has 
been rejected by the House of Parliament, and the Belgian 
army will be disappointed in its expectation to find protec- 
tion behind the present works there. 

On the other hand, a fortified camp at Namur would 
cover the larger part of the country, and even the capital in 
some manner, and secure the direct support of the Prussian 
troops, or eventually their falling back on that camp, while 
there is no chance to fall back on Antwerp at all. The flank 
position on the Maas, in connection with the fortified Na- 
mur, protected on the left by the Ardennes, but a day's 
march from the fortresses of Charleroi, Dinant and Huy, 
with the rich Liittich and the railroad in rear, seems very 
suitable for the offensive as well as for the defensive, as 


Preparations for War 

also for the subsistence and reinforcement of the Belgian 

It is unquestionable that the location of the Belgian 
army at Antwerp is also of advantage to us in so far as the 
French attack will have to leave there a large corps, and will 
be considerably weakened in consequence when reaching 
our frontier. Still we must consider that Belgium, the 
frontier places of which are in bad condition, will be lost 
sooner than our corps can reach the Rhine from the center 
of the Monarchy and that it will have to be retaken. 

Consequently the question arises as to whether the 
Belgian Government, without our entering into definite 
agreements with it, can be induced to concentrate its army 
on the Maas instead of at Antwerp. 

More unfavorable than in the northern, are the political 
conditions in the southern part of the large theater of war 
in case of a war between France and Germany. 

In similar manner as the Kingdom of the Netherlands, 
Sardinia, in the Paris Peace Convention, was made a bul- 
wark against future attacks by France on Germany. Sar- 
dinia is in possession of the important passes across the 
Alps from Mont Blanc to the sea ; it received ten millions of 
French contribution money to secure these passes by fort- 
resses, while on the other hand Alessandria, close to Lom- 
bardy, was deprived of many things. Still, conditions since 
those days did not develop in accordance with the policies of 
the different cabinets; and the latter themselves have been 
brought to a different standpoint partly by national and 
social ideas taking possession of the people. 

For a number of years the national movement has been 
increasing in Italy, having for its aim the confederation of 
all Italian states under one general government. 

Sardinia feels called upon to be the champion of this 
movement. The domination of Austria in Italy is the main 
obstacle to the accomplishment of the object. At the Euro- 


Moltke's Correspondence 

pean Congress at Paris in 1856 a Sardinian minister pro- 
tested, in the name of Italy, against that domination : "There 
can be no understanding between Sardinia and Austria, as 
long as the latter owns an inch of Italy." The Sardinian 
army waits impatiently for the moment when it can even, 
in a new campaign, scores with Austria. Alessandria and 
Casale, now fortified, are the supporting points for the ex- 
pected war. 

In Italy, with this national tendency, is felt far-reach- 
ing republican sentiment. In case of conflict both will 
separate, will oppose each other. Even now the Sardinian 
government, which is the most powerful of the Italian de- 
pendencies, cannot shake off its suspicious ally. More than 
once a breaking off of diplomatic relations with Austria 
was imminent, in place of the government having the cour- 
age to muzzle the press. If in a probable war the goverii- 
ment or the Mazzini faction will control the movements is 
doubtful and will mainly depend on conditions under which 
France enters the theater of war. So far, however, and up 
to a certain point all the different parties are in accordance 
and relentlessly insist on war with Austria. 

On account of its excellent military system, Sardinia 
is a formidable opponent. It does not at all profess to await, 
inactively, foreign interference. It can concentrate within 
four or five weeks an army of 60,000 men at Turin, ready 
to take the field, which can reach Stradella within a few 
marches and there, based on Casale, Alessandria and Genoa, 
cover the entire country in a strong position, flank a hostile 
crossing over the Ticino, immediately threaten Milan, and 
also can be reinforced for an offensive operation by a part 
of the very important fortress garrisons (40,000 men). 

So much for the threatening position of Sardinia. The 
remaining Italian powers are of less importance, but as 
long as France keeps troops in the "Church Domain" the 
southern frontier of Lombardy cannot be considered secure. 

It is clear that in this case Austria cannot appear in 
Germany in force nor in a short time. 


Preparations for War 

Of special importance, finally, is Switzerland, which 
forms a bulwark in the center between the German and 
Italian line of defense. 

Neutral Switzerland separates the armies which Aus- 
tria can place in Germany and in Lombardy; it is the key 
to the interior of Fi^ance, to the "Franche-Comte " If we 
may now assume that a French army will enter this moun- 
tainous country, then it will find itself there m a central 
position difllicult to attack, from which it can debouch via 
the upper Rhine against Southern Germany or via the easy 
Alpine passes against Upper Italy, in which case not only 
Austria's offensive against Sardinia but also its defensive 
in Lombardy can be taken in rear and from which even the 
Tyrol can be threatened. 

The consequence of hostile occupation of Switzerland 
would be that the Rhine and the Ticino would no longer 
form the original defensive line of the German armies but 
rather the Iller and the Mincio. The line of the first posi- 
tion would be from Rastatt via Ulm, Feldkirch and Peschiera 
to Mantua and the rich countries of Suabia and Lombardy 
would at the very start be abandoned to the enemy. 

Consequently the question, whether Switzerland can 
maintain, and will maintain its neutrality — assured to it 
since the peace of Westphalia — becomes of the utmost im- 

Switzerland emerged from the war of 1847 as a Con- 
federation State and with a well organized army of some 
100,000 men; it is true that this people's army has many 
defects, has hardly any cavalry, but it is well suited to the 
defense of the fatherland and can be concentrated in a very 
short time — that is within three weeks. 

Even though the fortifications of Geneva have been 
razed, and those of Basel are useless, and though France 
dominates the approaches to Lyon and Besangon in French 
Switzerland, still the Jura and the Aar compose a very 
strong defensive line. If now Switzerland intends to main- 
tain its neutrality, France must, in its very serious war 
against Germany, detach a special army for operations, the 


Moltke's Correspondence 

outcome of which is doubtful and which will be of great 
advantage only if the operations can be quickly ended and 
before the German armies are able to take up the offensive. 

Liberal and radical principles have also found a foot- 
hold in Switzerland. As is known, France has sympa- 
thetic followers in the Waadtland, and in Geneva it has in- 
creased its influence with success and has, as a matter of 
fact, furnished the arbitrator lately in a matter of great 
importance to Switzerland. There seems to exist no fav- 
orable sentiments towards Germany. Public opinion and 
the press will apparently take France's side in case of 
hostilities. Still Switzerland's interests are well estab- 
lished. In giving up its neutrality the independence of the 
country is endangered ; the country will immediately become 
the theater of war, in which it can gain nothing because 
additions to its country are entirely beyond the interests 
of Switzerland. 

We may therefore reasonably assume that the Swiss 
Government, at the decisive moment and in spite of all 
party opinions and sympathies, will guard its neutrality 
and protect it with the entire forces at its command. 

If the policies of the Sardinian Government are in en- 
tire opposition to those of the Austrian Government, if on 
the other hand the Kingdom of the Netherlands has dropped 
down to military unimportance, still we cannot deny that it 
is of the utmost importance to pave the way in the very 
start to a friendly understanding with Belgium and Switzer- 
land. In this the question is : Shall Germany, in case of 
war with France, have two armies of 100,000 men for or 
against it, and shall we have to defend the lines from Lux- 
emburg to Basle or from Ostend to Geneva? 

Germafiy, with its two world powers, has an army of 
over a million of men. If we consider the number only, we 
are justified in coming to the conclusion that France by 
itself alone is far from being strong enough to wage a war 
against Germany. This conclusion is entirely justified, if 


Preparations for War 

we may assume that Germany will be united, or will in the 
end be united — i.e., that Austria and Prussia will form a un- 
ion. The greatest danger to the peace of Europe lies in the 
unity of the two German world powers, and, if circum- 
stances still demand war, that unity guarantees a favorable 

In order to take up an enormous war with German 
Central Europe, in which war England might finally par- 
ticipate, France needs to take additional preparatory steps 
— i.e., the spreading of its power in the Roman West (Ro- 
manischen Westen) . 

The situation in the Italian peninsula furnishes an op- 
portunity (which France will not allow to go to waste, as 
soon as interior conditions show this to be advisable) to oc- 
cupy the attention of the different parties with exterior 

By an armed interference in Italian politics France 
threatens in the first place neither Prussia nor the main 
part of the German Confederation States. The operation is 
first of all directed against Austria, and that is, only against 
that part of Austria outside of Germany. In this France 
probably does not insist on an addition of terrain, it ostensi- 
bly fights for national ideas, and the primary question is to 
reestablish Italy. 

No matter how weak Southern Germany is on account 
of its disunion, France will there, between Austria and 
Prussia, seek no addition of terrain, but only, as in Italy, 
influence, prestige and protectorate. On the other hand it 
will concentrate all its force for the recapture of the Rhine 
line, the loss of which has never yet been forgotten. And 
this Prussia will have to prevent by itself alone, if Austria, 
driven out of Italy, has no longer the will nor the power to 
engage in a new campaign. 

In quiet times Prussia's prestige in Germany may be 
minimized or forced into the background by Austria's riv- 
alry, but in case of threatened danger it will always come to 
the front. If Prussia should show its disapproval of the 
pressure on Austria in Italy by it (Prussia) placing its 
army on the Rhine, then the smaller German states cannot 


Moltke's Correspondence 

decline to participate in the general battle, which then will 
assume threatening proportions as far as France is con- 

It is difficult to say in advance in which manner this 
participation will be made. In the year 1830 the South 
German states were very glad to believe that Prussia would 
be their first support. They diligently sought that support. 
Later discussions, treaties and conventions did not bring a 
definite agreement, and the question as to the supreme com- 
mand will always be a difficult one. In accordance with the 
treaties of 1848, the IX and X Confederation Corps are to 
join the Prussian army, and, on the other hand, the VII and 
VIII Confederation Corps are to concentrate at Rastatt. 
To support these corps, Austria expects to immediately pro- 
ceed with 150,000 men to the Rhine, or to at least behind 
the Black Forest, to be followed by a reserve of 50,000 men 
as shortly thereafter as possible. The actual carrying out 
of that plan would correspond entirely to the general in- 
terest ; we shall see in how far it will actually be carried out. 

It is of course true that the VII and VIII Confederation 
Corps can be assembled at Ulm or Wiirzburg in about the 
same time as they can be at Rastatt and Germersheim — 
that is, between the thirtieth and the forty-first day. In this 
matter the deciding factor will be the difference that in one 
case the separate contingents will advance against a con- 
centrated hostile army, while in the other case they will 
march away from that army. 

If we, as undoubtedly appears to be the case, leave the 
initiative to France, a concentration at Rastatt — Germers- 
heim is impossible, and consequently there remains but a 
choice between Ulm and Wiirzburg as points of concentra- 

If the South German contingents intend to seek Aus- 
tria's help, then, no matter whether that help is met at the 
Iller, on the Lech, or even at the Inn, the retreat and sub- 
sequent advance will make Suabia and Bavaria the perma- 
nent theater of war. If, on the other hand, the contingents 
can count on finding Prussian support at Wiirzburg, then it 


Prei)arations for War 

is very doubtful if a French army will try to penetrate 
deeper into South Germany, 

No matter how desirable it is to ascertain all these 
conditions in advance, conventions treating with that matter 
would, at the present time, hardly come to a satisfactory 
agreement. But when forced by necessity the South Ger- 
man Governments will not very long vacillate between the 
far off and uncertain support which will result in making 
their country the theater of war, and the nearby support 
which will protect their domain. In the latter case the im- 
portant and difficult question as to supreme command will 
answer itself. 

II. First Position of the Prussian Armies 

Eventually to be in Connection with the German 
Confederation Corps 

The above views seem to make it advisable, after leav- 
ing the observation troops on the western frontier, to divide 
the balance of the army into three larger detachments, of 
which the first takes over, on the lower Rhine, the defense 
of the Rhine Province and its line of fortresses ; the second 
forms on the Main the offensive army proper, and the third 
being held in readiness on the Saale to march toward the 
one or the other directions according to how the hostile at- 
tack develops. 

It should be stated how strong each army detachment 
is to be, what army corps are to compose it, and when it 
can be concentrated. 

The army on the lower Rhine, in addition to the Vllth 
and Vlllth Army Corps already there, would consist of the 
Illd Army Corps and finally also of the Xth German Con- 
federation Corps. 

The Illd Army Corps is selected for this army de- 
tachment because it is the most suitable one in the center 
of the Monarchy and can be sent to the Rhine even before 
the general mobilization, to protect there the concentration 
of the Vllth and Vlllth Corps. 

If the Xth German Confederation Corps can be counted 
on at all, its geographical situation makes it advisable to 


Moltke's Correspondence 

designate it for the lower Rhine, where it will protect the 
districts of its separate contingents. 

There would arrive in the vicinity of Diisseldorf : 

the Illd Army Corps on the 30th day, 
the Xth Army Corps on the 44th day, 

after orders for mobilization are issued. Consequently there 
would be at our disposal on the Rhine, within four weeks, 
three Prussian army corps ; or about 100,000 men, not 
counting the strong fortress garrisons, and in about six 
weeks more than 135,000 men which, based on the Rhine 
line, will have to bring each and any hostile operations to a 

Even in case we cannot reckon on the participation of 
the Xth German Confederation Corps, it does not appear 
advisable to send a larger force than three Prussian army 
corps to the lower Rhine in the start and before conditions 
have better developed. The line of Prussian fortresses there 
is so strong that it can for a long time be held even against 
superior forces, and it has already been shown that the 
enemy can hardly reach that line without having materially 
weakened his force by detachments. 

France can secure to itself permanent possession of 
the left bank of the Rhine only by taking Cologne and 
Coblenz, and this would mean sieges connected with the 
utmost difficulties considering the activities of the defensive 
army and the fact that the French army would have the 
Wesel and Mayence on its flank. 

It would not be advisable to engage in battle on the 
left bank with superior forces, still we can not abandon 
that part of the Province without resistance. 

Conditions in Belgium will have to decide whether the 
Vllth Army Corps is to be advanced as far as Aix-la-Cha- 
pelle and the Vllth to Trier, or if it will be possible to merely 
observe the frontier (for the present covered by neutral 
terrain) and to meet at the Mosel with our entire force the 
advance coming from Metz. 

The army on the Main is to be formed of three 
Prussian with later on the IXth German Confederation 
Corps. Of these the former will arrive : 


Preparations for War 

The IVth Army Corps on the 36th day, by marching, 

The Vth Army Corps on the 32d day, by rail, 

The Vlth Army Corps, it leaving the 12th Division behind on the 

42d day, 
The IXth Confederation Corps on the 33d day, 

after orders for mobilization have been issued. 

Consequently, by about the same time the concentra- 
tion of the Rhine Army has been completed, an additional 
86,000, or respectively 120,000 men, would be consolidated 
on the lower Rhine, and of these the larger part would 
already be there when the contingents of the Vllth and 
Vlllth Confederation Corps leave for their points of con- 
centration. It is clear, that this available force will give 
greater protection to the concentration of the two men- 
tioned corps at Wiirzburg or Bamberg, than were that con- 
centration made at Ulm, where the Austrian corps will 
arrive only one or two months later. If the Vllth and 
Vlllth Confederation Corps join the main Prussian army 
on the Main, there will be formed, by the 42d day, an army 
of over 200,000 men, which will protect the territory of the 
South German States. 

The Reserve army on the Saale consists of the lid 
Army Corps and the Guard Corps, a total of 66,000 men, 
for which we recommend the vicinity of Halle and Weis- 
senfels as a point of concentration because the most impor- 
tant railroads center there and by the utilization of which 
roads the corps can reach in a very short time either Diis- 
seldorf, Frankfort or Bamberg, as also, in case of need, 
Breslau and Hamburg. 

The Guard Corps can reach Halle — Weissenfels on the 
4th day, the lid Army Corps on the 46th day. 

Only by that time some conditions, uncertain until then, 
will be cleared up ; first, the steps taken by Russia, and the 
necessity of taking steps against Denmark. By that time 
we can ascertain further whether France makes its main 
attack against Belgium and consequently against Prussia; 
if we can count on an active participation of the Belgian 
army, provided we give that country open support; if the 
South German States have actually received Austria's 
promised help and if their contingents have joined the 

—59 — 

Moltke's Correspondence 

Austrian army ; and finally, if we can not count at all on the 
support of Germany and Austria in the ensuing war. In 
all these cases an immediate move of the Reserve Army to 
the lower Rhine via Hanover and Cassel would appear neces- 
sary. The army on the Main, in that case but 86,000 men, 
would under such conditions, by a defensive attitude, cover 
the left flank of the Rhine Army, which would be reinforced 
to at least 165,000 men, which latter army then would be 
charged with the offensive to be made in Belgium and, if 
ever possible, in France. 

If, on the other hand, the Belgian army remains in 
passive defense of its fortified camp at Antwerp and thereby 
draws a part of the French army to it, while the contingent 
of the Vllth and Vlllth Confederation Corps, possibly after 
an unsuccessful attempt to concentrate at Rastatt, are fall- 
ing back on Franconia, the Reserve Army, to give them a 
rallying place, would have to be sent to either Wiirzburg, 
Bamberg or Bayreuth, and to join thereafter the Army of 
the Main. 

In the spring of 1860 General v. Moltke composed a memorial 
which treated of the political and military situation of Prussia, as 
well as of the advance of its army in case of a war with either 
Russia or Austria or France. The following is that part of the 
memorial treating of a war with France. 


Berlin, Spring of 1860. 

Positions of the Prussian Army in a War With 

The skillfulness of Emperor Louis Napoleon accom- 
plished the separation of the politics of the European Cab- 
inets. The dismembering of the treaties of 1815, fundamen- 
tally declared and actually accomplished, did not conduce 
to again bring the cabinets into harmony. 

With the help of other first class powers Russia had 
been humbled, without that help, Austria. From that first 
campaign France emerged without any material re^sult 


Preparations for War 

whatsoever, and with but little from the second. But the 
moral success obtained is immense. The emperor has 
strengthened his position in the country, the army has 
gained the feeling of invincibility. France not only has 
become the head of the Roman world, it has also chained 
the entire German territory to its policies, whether or no. 
Neither Russia nor Austria found help anywhere, and they 
on their part will hardly give any help. The one, engaged 
in reconstruction, will require years befora it again can 
bring its force to be felt outside its territory; the other, 
deprived of some of its territory, shaken in its finances, 
disarms and lets things around it take their own course. 
There is no reasonable hope to expect the Idees Napoleonnes 
to stand still ; a European coalition which could oppose their 
advance is now less possible than heretofore. Up to now 
France has battled for others, now it will fight and conquer 
territory for itself. Theories of peoples' elections, of nation- 
alities and of the natural frontiers are excuses for all pur- 
poses ; the army and navy are the means for carrying them 
out. It is now England's and Prussia's turn ; Cherbourg 
and Chalons threaten both of them. 

There can be no doubt at all but what the French are 
able to land on the other side of the Channel and that there 
they can cause serious damage. But it is impossible that 
the emperor can capture England or incorporate a part of 
it permanently in France. An actual increase in territory 
is only possible on the Rhine. There Prussia stands, and 
probably Prussia alone. The French navy is the forceful 
means to keep England quiet, while the French army de- 
mands back the once possessed and never forgotten Rhine. 
That once accomplished, Europe will acquiesce in the fact, 
as it did in the case of Belgium, Krakau, Neuenburg and 

The help, on which we may count from outside, should 
not be estimated too high as to its effect. 

Even if Russia should decide on participation, we must 
remember that the mobilization of its army is very slow, 
that concentration takes time, that it stands a hundred 
marches behind the front, which we will have to defend in 


Moltke's Correspondence 

the start. In any war, especially a war with France, Russia 
dare not leave the kingdom of Poland unprotected, and 
cannot disregard Turkey. A Russian auxiliary corps of 
even only 66,000 men could hardly reach, by rail, the Rhine 
within four months. 

From the entire territory of Great Britain and Ireland, 
England at the present moment cannot assemble 60,000 
men to defend the Channel ; it cannot utilize its militia on 
the main land. Seriously threatened in its own country, 
it cannot support us directly. 

More important to us than these two powers in a war 
are the two small powers on the Rhine, Belgium and Holland, 
on account of their immediate participation, for with them 
it is a matter of absolute existence should France reach out 
toward the Rhine, and, though thus far they have shown 
little inclination to support Prussia, they will undoubtedly 
perceive at the decisive moment that they can expect help 
only from Prussia. 

The census shows that Belgium has 80,000, Holland 
30,000 able-bodied men. If this force could be timely 
assembled in time at Liittich and Maastricht and supported 
at Aix-la-Chapelle by a few Prussian corps, we could exe- 
cute an excellent defense of the Maas [Meuse] . 

But we cannot count on this. Both armies, especially 
that of Holland, have been neglected in the highest degree. 
In Brussels and at the Hague nothing is thought of but the 
strictest defense. The Belgian army is to be assembled 
at Antwerp in a position yet to be made, and there, abandon- 
ing the entire country and its capital, without possibility of 
retreat, its back to the sea, wait for help from England, 
which latter cannot help itself. The Hollanders hope to 
finally arrive there and to engage in a passive defense 
behind the Utrecht line until somebody or other saves them. 

Prussia is a member of the German Confederation. 
Attacked by France, it may expect help from the Confed- 
eration, the help of half a million soldiers in the field. 

We will assume that the Confederation war is declared 
in Frankfurt and that none of the German states evades 
its duty. Prussia now will be required to place half of 


Preparations for War 

its fighting force at the disposal of a still unknown com- 
mander-in-chief at a moment when it, attacked on its own 
frontiers, needs all its means to save its very existence. The 
immense Confederation help can shrivel down to an Aus- 
trian — South German army passively defending the Black 

Of the North German States, we cannot count at all on 
Saxony, but on the other hand Hesse and Nassau cannot 
prevent their countries from being garrisoned by Prussian 
troops. The states of the Xth Confederation Corps are 
also compelled to join us; the corps itself, in the start, 
ought to be held at our disposal for protection of the coast. 

It is not probable that Sardinia will emancipate itself 
from France in the near future and demand back Savoy. 
If it, continuing the inaugurated liberation of Italy, should 
turn against Venice, it will undoubtedly hold the four Aus- 
trian corps, at the present time still mobile and which are 
now stationed at Verona, Treviso, Padua and Laibach. It 
is true that in that case the mobilization and start of the 
corps intended for Germany will not be very quick, but 
just through this fact conditions in Germany will take a 
shape more favorable to us, for the South Germans will 
be compelled to seek on the Main and on the Neckar the 
help which they will not find on the Iller and on the Lech. 

It is clear, on the other hand, that France will, in its 
attack on Prussia, find no active ally except in Sardinia and 
possibly Denmark. 

The time has not yet arrived for Russia when com- 
bined action of the Slavic East and the Roman West against 
Central Europe can transform the situation of the world. 
Such an advance would unite all German elements and 
would require the complete and free development of power 
of all our neighbors to carry out that Titantic struggle. 
Russia is not in such a situation at present. 

If we could believe that Austria would ally itself with 
France against Prussia, that step would immediately unite 
all Germany under Prussia, for the annihilation of Prussia 
and supremacy on the part of Austria are not to the best 
interests of the minor states. Austria itself would be but 


Moltke's Correspondence 

a weak ally to France. Its power would be lamed in the 
highest degree by Russia and Sardinia as well as by interior 
conditions in Hungary and also in the German countries. 

Emperor Napoleon and his official journals will un- 
doubtedly easily prove that a war against Prussia is the 
latter's own doing and that war does not concern the Con- 
federation. But in the case of actual invasion of other 
than Prussian territory, this argument would hardly be 
sound. Although the preparations for war in the Confed- 
eration may not indicate very active steps, still they are 
very disquieting to France, as those preparations will chain 
a part of the attacking army in the Vosges. If France is 
now enabled to come into contact with Prussia, without 
invading other Confederation territory, it will be because 
an entire passiveness of our German allies is not entirely be- 
yond the realm of possibility. 

France can come into contact with Prussia in two diff- 
erent ways. One of them would be a direct landing on the 
Baltic Sea coast. It is said that the French navy can trans- 
port 60,000 men, possibly even a greater number, if the 
question is one of a journey of but a few hours to land a 
force on the other side of the Channel. Different are con- 
ditions of transport over foreign seas. History since the 
Crusades shows but expeditions of 30,000 men, and only 
then where an attack by land was absolutely impossible. In 
the Crimean war, to make this possible, it required the fleets 
of two great European sea powers to do this. 

The distance from Cherbourg through the Kattegatt 
on the Pomeranian coast is 250 miles (1000 English miles). 
A steam fleet towing transports can cover that distance even 
under favorable conditions in hardly less than eight days. 

What is England's attitude as to such an undertaking? 
The preparations on a grand scale in the French ports can- 
not be kept secret ; they threaten England as well, in such a 
degree that even the most positive promise would not alto- 
gether allay uneasiness. England would have to put its 
Channel fleet into commission and reenforce it from dis- 
tant stations. 


Preparations for War 

Would England allow such a favorable opportunity to 
destroy the entire dangerous French fleet at one fell swoop, 
which, having an army on board, would be unable to fight? 

Still, we will assume that this fleet passes the Downs un- 
molested, that its further objective is unknown, that it 
would anchor in the Griefswald Deep, that it would not 
encounter any forces preventing a landing, and that 60,000 
French disembark at Riigen. Even the undisputed pos- 
session of this island, as long as no naval establishment 
exists there, would not justify the expense. Sixty thousand 
men, who would have to invest Stralsund and Stettin, could 
hardly attempt further operations toward Berlin. The fleet 
would have to return and bring another contingent after 
an interval of weeks, during which time the corps first 
landed would be left helpless in hostile country, without a 
possible chance of retreat. 

If France at all decides on a naval attack, it is far more 
probable that the Elbe will be the objective. The distance 
is but half of that to Riigen, a landing could be made near 
Gliickstadt, and after taking Hamburg and Liibeck the 
French, based on Denmark and in connection with the Dan- 
ish army, could try to advance towards Berlin on the right 
bank of the Elbe. That these allies then, during the 14 
days' march or even in Holstein, will experience a complete 
catastrophe before the arrival of the next contingent is so 
apparent that such an undertaking could only be very de- 
sirable to us. 

But it is hardly possible that a main operation will be 
based on the sea, as long as there is a land base. 

France joins Prussia directly, and the second method 
to attack us without entering anything but Prussian terri- 
tory would be an advance from Metz across the Saar; that 
means on a front ten miles long from Luxemburg to Saar- 
louis, while the shortest line of operation to Coblenz and 
Cologne leads twice that distance across the Mosel and the 
mountains along that stream. Any attack from Mayence 
would flank such an advance and bring it to a halt. Even 
if the Palatinate is drawn into the French base, it will make 
no difference, for from Bingen to Trier we can, in three 


Moltke's Correspondence 

marches, cut through all communications with France; the 
enemy's main operations consequently will undoubtedly come 
from the lower Rhine towards the Main ; that is, towards 
Southern Germany. 

As a matter of fact France needs a larger base to attack 
Prussia. It dare not violate Belgium's neutrality. It cannot 
capture the Rhine without traversing Belgium, and it can- 
not hold the Rhine without possessing Belgium. The Em- 
peror has the choice in an attack on Prussia to either have 
the German Confederation or Belgium and England against 
him. Now, we must not place too high a value on the help 
of either the one or the other, for France is strong enough 
to carry out its operations against Germany, Belgium and 
England by itself without allies if Prussia does not prevent 
it therefrom with the forces at its command. We may only 
hope that our neighbors will occupy a part of the enemy 
north and south and hold him — we will have to bear the 
main attack. For this we must keep together all of our 
fighting forces. We must not detach either towards Bel- 
gium or Holland, nor give any corps to the Confederation 
army, the Confederation contingents should rather join the 
Prussian army. Not treaties with the Confederation but 
the necessity of the moment will require this. 

As is known, in time of peace the largest part of the 
French artillery and cavalry, whose transportation by rail 
is more difficult, is now in garrisons in France. The ex- 
cellent railroad net allows all fighting forces of the country 
to be concentrated at Paris on six or eight special main 

Chalons is in direct connection by rail with Basle, 
Strassburg, Mannheim, Saarbriicken, Mezieres, Lille and 
Calais. A primary concentration in a prepared camp there 
threatens at the same time Southern Germany, Prussia, Bel- 
gium and even England. 

A more distant concentration of troops behind the Seille 
at Nancy leaves us in doubt whether the attack will be made 
via Strassburg or Metz. On the other hand, if Belgium be 
the objective, a concentration must be made at Maubeuge, 
Valenciennes and Lille and we must regulate our primary 


Preparations for War 

concentration in such a manner that we are prepared for 
an attack from Liittich, Metz and Mannheim. 

It has been recommended in case of a war with France, 
to concentrate under any and all conditions the Prussian 
army at Trier, to reinforce the country there by fortifica- 
tions and thus to protect the entire country by means of an 
impregnable flank position which no enemy could afford to 
pass. It is true that the Saar, Mosel, Sauer and Kyll, which 
flow together here in a very confined space, are of themselves 
no very important stream.s, but, having deep mountain 
passes, form important defiles of extraordinary power of re- 
sistance even against very superior forces. The bridges at 
Conz, Wasserbillig and Trier, as well as crossings to be con- 
structed, facilitate crossing if they should be fortified and 
even without being so ; and as in Trier, considering the prox- 
imity of the Rhine line, we are in direct communication with 
Wesel, Cologne, Coblenz and Mayence, we can always have 
towards the south, west and north a line of retreat perpen- 
dicularly behind our front, which on and of itself promises 
an unusual freedom in maneuvering. Thereto should be 
added, that finally the retreat in all directions leads through 
a terrain which allows avoiding superior numbers, before 
these can fully deploy. 

The theory goes still further; it does not want to re- 
treat to the Rhine ; it wants to advance offensively from a 
flank position, but also return to here. It also wants to 
front towards the east and to base on Trier. 

An absolute requirement for such a procedure is the 
neutrality of Belgium. Could we now be certain of that, 
the concentration at Trier would answer all purposes. It, 
better than any other position, would directly protect the 
Rhine province and would flank any advance of the opponent 
towards the Main. In connection with Luxemburg and 
Saarlouis it would allow the shortest and most effective 
offensive against Lorraine. But we know that the neutrality 
of Belgium is questionable, almost improbable. If a French 
army could cross the Maas at Liittich and Maastricht, it 
would not allow itself to be prevented from operating against 
Cologne by the fact that the Prussian army, double the dis- 


Moltke's Correspondence 

tance away, is in a flank position at Trier. As a matter of 
necessity, we would have to leave that flank position, ad- 
vance through the Eifel and in doing so lose our base at 
Trier. For, should we be thrown back in that direction, 
we would be completely cut off from the rest of the Mon- 
archy and would enter into most unnatural and most 
disadvantageous conditions. This fact confines into narrow 
limits the value of Trier in theory; in practice the concen- 
tration of our main force there is absolutely impossible, 
because, considering the readiness for war of our neighbors, 
we have no time therefor. 

For the defense of the Rhine province the Rhine will 
remain the base, even if an army detachment, to defend the 
country on the left hand as long as possible, cannot be con- 
centrated better than at Trier. 

The Rhine forms an obstacle forty miles long from 
Mayence to Cleves which on account of the breadth of the 
stream is hard to overcome, and this barrier is advantageous 
to defensive as well as offensive purposes on account of 
four important fortresses. Mayence, Coblenz, Cologne and 
Wesel are on the average but three days' march from each 
other. A hostile crossing between them is threatened on 
both banks in flank and rear at one and the same time. Each 
one of the Rhine bridges, held by us, forms a flank position 
for the next one. 

The front of the Rhine line can be enveloped only on the 
left flank. Considering its extraordinary strength it would 
be neither necessary nor advisable to concentrate all our 
fighting forces behind it. Far rather will the larger half 
of them remain at our disposal to secure on the Main the only 
vulnerable flank. 

This shows that : 

1. We will place two armies in position under all cir- 
cumstances, which will directly support each other in the 
defensive or disengage themselves by the offensive. 

2. The first concentration of these armies can be ef- 
fected only with certainty under the protection of the Rhine 
fortresses behind the Rhine and the Main, where also rail 


Preparations for War 

transportation ceases and where the operations, that is 
marching, must commence. 

A French attack may be considered under four combi- 
nations : 

1. Exclusively against Prussia, avoiding Belgium and 
South German territory; we have already stated that this 
operation is very improbable. 

2. France respects Belgian neutrality and advances 
directly against the Mosel and through Southern Germany 
towards the Main. 

This attack is improbable, considering political rea- 
sons, because, as already stated, France cannot per- 
manently keep the Rhine province, without also possessing 
Belgium. The danger will not be lost sight of in Brussels, 
and Belgium would always have to be observed, even if 
only with a small force at the start. We assume that for 
this purpose the army at Lille would remain — 40,000 men. 
On the other hand, the army of Paris would effect a junction 
with that of Chalons and would form an army of some 
140,000 men at Metz for an attack on the Mosel, and further- 
more, the armies of Nancy, Lyons, Tours and Toulouse' 
with that of Strassburg, in similar strength of 140,000 men, 
would be disposable for operations against Germany and the 

This combination allows the concentration of our entire 
fighting forces between Coblenz and Frankfurt. In the de- 
fensive w^e could hold the Rhine or the Main, according to 
whether we would advance through Mayence or Coblenz 
offensively with superior forces against either the one or 
the other of the hostile armies. 

Trier would be the point of assembly for those of our 
fighting forces which are ready. The Mosel and its branches 
assure the retreat of these corps on Coblenz and Cologne, 
if they have to retreat before superior numbers. As soon 
as our fighting forces are concentrated, the Rhine army, re- 
inforced as much as possible, would advance toward Trier, 
th3 Main army, for the time being behind the Main, in case 
of need behind the Lahn and the Sieg, would confine itself 
to the defense or even fall back to the left bank of the Rhine. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

The offensive of our Rhine army from the Mosel will soon 
bring the operations of the French on the right bank of 
the Rhine to a standstill. 

Such a procedure is mostly to the best and exclusive 
Prussian interests, it best protects our own domain. On 
the right bank of the Rhine the enemy would have to ad- 
vance as far as across the Lahn before he could reach this 

Should the South German contingents have joined our 
main army, then that array would become of such strength 
that it would be far superior to the Strassburg army and 
could, instead of falling back, advance toward the Neckar. 
It would press back the enemy on Strassburg and would 
get into connection with our Rhine army via Mannheim and 
Germersheim and would disengage that army should it be 
thrown back on the Mosel. 

3. France advances through Belgium against Prussia 
without touching the rest of Germany. 

This case is probable, if Southern Germany, favoring 
Austria or even France, should declare its neutrality under 
the pretext that Prussia has forced the war. 55,000 men 
from Lyon and Toulouse, concentrated at Strassburg, would 
be sufficient for the present for observation. There could 
be assembled : From Paris, Tours, and Lille, at Lille 145,000 
men; from Nancy, Chalons and Algiers, at Metz, 120,000 
men. The French in that case would be compelled to occupy 
Belgium, to hold the Belgian army in Antwerp, possibly 
also to observe the Hollanders behind the Waal, and thus 
they would reach Aix-la-Chapelle with hardly more than 
100,000 men. The Metz army will have to invest Luxem- 
burg and Saarlouis, to observe Mayence and Coblenz, and 
would have finally but 200,000 men or less to advance against 
the Rhine. As in that case our flank is secured, the main 
army may be called up to defend the Rhine and we would 
be enabled, before the armies of Metz and Lille could units, 
to take the offensive in greatly superior numbers against 
the one or the other from Coblenz or from Cologne. 

It appears to be of more advantage if we carry on a 
defensive war on the Mosel if we, based on Cologne and 


Preparations for War 

Wesel, attack the enemy advancing via Aix-la-Chapelle, in 
order to disengage by victory the Belgians at Antwerp. 
In this case we would have to occupy Trier with our fight- 
ing forces first ready, and to support them from Coblenz so 
as to keep our hold on the Mosel. 

4. France attacks Belgium, Prussia and Germany. 

This case is the most probable one. In the war against 
Prussia there is such danger for Belgium and Germany that 
France cannot count on a permanent neutrality of these 
countries. Both would gain time to complete their arma- 
ment and a change in politics can become exceedingly 
dangerous. An English auxiliary corps would lead the 
Belgian army to active operations, and in Southern Ger- 
many the sentiment of the people might easily make it im- 
possible for the Cabinets to entertain anti-German politics. 

If it is necessary to guard Belgium and Germany by sep- 
arate armies, it appears to be advantageous for France to 
increase these armies in the very start, to advance offen- 
sively and thus to prevent assemblies of hostile fighting 
forces, to gain territory, to support the war from foreign 
sources and to gain a larger base. 

It will have to be the first endeavor of the French to 
reach the Prussian army as the center of gravity of the 
German forces and to defeat it. An advance towards the 
Main would disrupt the concentration of the South German 
contingents and would endanger the strategic advance of 
the Prussian army, which advance in that direction is not 
protected by a strong line of fortresses. Consequently there 
is for France no more favorable operation than to appear 
as quickly and as strong as possible on the lower Main. 
To protect its left flank a weaker army would have to ad- 
vance toward the Mosel and advance against us through 
Belgium, and a stronger army to advance against the Maas, 
which latter the French should endeavor to take immediate 
possession of; this advance would also draw off a part of 
the Prussian army from the Main. 

We imagine the division of the French fighting forces 
to be about as follows : 


Moltke's Correspondence 

40,000 men at Lille against the Belgian army which is falling 

back on Antwerp; 
80,000 men at Valenciennes and Maubeuge against the lower 

40,000 men at Metz against the Mosel; 
100,000 men at Nancy { as main army 

90,000 men at Strassburg \ against the Main. 

Total 350,000 men 

These forces could be opposed by 

300,000 Prussians 
1,000,000 Austrians 
120,000 Confederation troops 

50,000 Belgians 

30,000 Hollanders 

Total 600,000 men 

If we assume that for the time being the Belgians and 
Hollanders will be held back by from 40,000 to 50,000 
French, this will leave 300,000 French against more than 
500,000 Germans. 

If, however, for the present the Xth Confederation 
Corps has to remain where it is, opposed to Denmark, if 
the Austrians do not come at all or come too late, if the 
Belgians and Wtirtembergers have to concentrate first at 
Ulm or Wurzburg, if we cannot count at all on Saxony, 
then only the Badeners, the Hessians and Nassauers would 
join us with 25,000 men. 

Even under these assumptions we will be numerically 
equal on the Rhine and the Main to the French fighting 
forces, and even superior, not counting that the latter will 
be weakened by the investment of Luxemburg, Saarlouis, 
Landau, Germersheim and Rastatt. 

Taken as a whole, we would have to remain on the de- 
fensive on the Rhine, and advance offensively from the Main. 

By the defensive we do not mean a passive waiting. 
Four fortresses of the first class assure to the Rhine not 
only an extraordinary power of resistance, but also make 
a crossing of the stream possible. The defender may change 
his base from one to the other bank without danger. Should 
the attacker have actually forced a crossing at some point, 
he sees all his communications endangered at the same 


Preparations for War 

moment. To invest fortresses in such a case is impossible. 
The Mosel and Erft, the Lahn and Sieg form sectors on 
both their banks against which the enemy will have to 
deploy, while we can either accept the attack or avoid it. 
Should the armies of Valenciennes and that of Metz have 
joined, then 100,000 Prussians would suffice to prevent 
them, by an active defense, from taking a foothold on the 
Rhine. It is of course true that in such an event our Rhine 
province would be the theater of war and that it would 
have to be relieved therefrom from the Main. 

And there the entire rest of our fighting forces must 
be concentrated. 

An army on the Main, which is strong enough to take 
the offensive, secures at one and the same time Southern 
Germany and the eastern provinces of our Monarchy, but an 
eventual retreat must not be made on those but on the Rhine 
Province. No matter if the French advance from Strass- 
burg to Wurzburg, Nuremberg or even to Ulm, as long 
as we hold the Rhine our advance from the Main will 
threaten their communications ; each battle will threaten 
their flank. Before the enemy has gained a larger victory 
it is impossible for him to penetrate into Franconia or into 
Suabia. He is absolutely attracted by our flank position 
on the Main and he must attack it. The right flank of that 
position is impregnable on account of the fortresses of 
Mayence, and, to gain that position farther up the Main, our 
opponents must endanger all of his communications, es- 
pecially when by additions to the works of Mainspitz a de- 
ployment from that place is more facilitated. 

We may accept with more confidence the decisive battle 
on the Main, because we can, in that case, reinforce the 
Main army in the shortest time by one corps of the Rhine 
army and because in case of absolute necessity that army 
can be received by the Rhine army on the Lahn. A victory 
in our favor will throw the French back on Strassburg, 
and if we pursue in that direction, we would be enabled at 
the same time to transfer the main offensive via Mayence 
to the left bank of the Rhine. Conditions then existing 
will decide whether the offensive then can be directed 


Moltke's Correspondence 

against the Eifel in order to disengage our Rhine army or 
at once against the Vosges. 

A concentration on the Main is imperatively required. 
It covers the left flank of our Rhine position, directly covers 
the North and indirectly the South of Germany and affords 
them the possibility to concentrate their fighting forces and 
to have them join the Prussian army. An offensive start- 
ing from the Rhine would lead to Belgium, where we can- 
not acquire anything for ourselves; one from the Main 
would lead towards Lorraine and Alsace, the only part of 
France where we will be enabled to get a foothold by an 
investment of Metz and Strassburg. 

Still, the offensive effect of the Main army is dependent 
on the fact of its being strong enough. We have seen that 
the French can send 190,000 men towards the Main, who 
of course will have to invest Rastatt, Landau and Germer- 

We cannot hope that in a war with France we can do 
with but a part of our army; we cannot form a reserve 
army for eventual cases, but will have to concentrate all of 
our forces at once and await a decision on the Rhine or on 
the Main. 

Without help from the Confederation, three of our 
army corps would suffice to carry on the defensive on the 
Rhine and that would leave us six corps for the Main, 

We think the first position to be about as follows : 

The Vlllth Army Corps at Trier, to protect as far as 
possible the Rhine Province against immediate and most 
pressing danger; the 15th Division will join the 16th there 
by marching on the 21st day. 

The Vllth Army Corps at Aix-la-Chapelle to observe 
there our frontier and to be a factor in Belgium's policies. 
The corps will reach that place by marching mainly, on the 
24th day. 

The IVth Army Corps at Cologne, which it can reach 
by rail on the 28th day and where it will go into cantonments 
at Enskirchen. 

If the authorities in Brussels decide to concentrate the 
Belgian army not in Antwerp but at Liittich, then by draw- 


Preparations for War 

ing the IVth Army Corps to the Maas an army of 120,000 
men would be formed. 

If France respects Belgium's neutrality, the Vllth and 
IV Army Corps should be concentrated, in five days' march- 
ing, at Trier, and there would be 100,000 men on the Mosel. 

About the same time, with help of the railroads, the 
Illd and Vth Army Corps could reach a point between 
Mayence and Frankfurt, could be reinforced by troops from 
Baden, Hesse, Nassau, and consequently there could be 
90,000 men on the Main. 

This shows that we will require thirty-three days for 
the first stages of the defense. The center of gravity, 
however, will be formed only with the arrival of the Vlth 
and the Guard Corps, which will reach Frankfurt on the 
Main by rail on the forty-seventh day; it may be possible 
that we could not assume a vigorous offensive until the 
arrival also of the 1st and lid Army Corps, which will take 
about two months. 

If we once have our fighting forces together then we 
may expect to be equal, with God's help and our own means, 
to any French attack. Our only danger lies in time condi- 
tions. We must not hide the fact from ourselves that 
France can easily surprise us strategically. We must not 
await the enemy's initiative. 

It is of the utmost importance to show our forces 
on the Main as soon as possible in case of war in order 
to dominate the sentiments of the South German govern- 
ments; even should our Vlllth Army Corps arrive in time 
at the Mosel, it would not be strong enough to permanently 
hold its position there against the forces which may be ex- 
pected to come from Metz. 

This clearly shows how important it is for us at this 
moment to have a greater part of our army on the Rhine 
than is furnished by the Vllth and Vlllth Army Corps. To 
call up a mobile corps from the central provinces would 
result in expense and evil and would appear as a provoca- 


Moltke's Coirespondence 

On the other hand, we might gain our object by the 
establishment of a maneuver camp. As France occupies 
a camp at Chalons with 60,000 men, it could not raise a 
protest against such a procedure. 

In dose connection with the line of thought in the preceding 
memorial, General v. Molke composed a memorial in November 1861, 
in which he treated of the importance of the Prussian fortresses 
for the defense of the country in a war with France. This mem- 
orial reads: 


Berlin, November 1861. 

Concerning the Strategical Importance of the 

Prussian Fortresses in Regard to the 

Defense of the Country in a 

War With France 

Only the strategical value of a fortress in regard to the 
defense of the country should decide whether larger sums 
are to be expended for its upkeep or enlargment. Only 
the conditions of the place in regard to facility of building 
and fortification decide in the second place what should be 
done for it with due consideration of requirements of the 

We cannot construe in advance the course a war will 
take, and consequently it will be impossible to judge the in- 
fluence of fortresses on the war ; still, certain definite condi- 
tions may be considered as permanent or guiding for a short 

The political situation of States changes, but it re- 
quires larger periods of time to materially change their 
relations to each other. No one will deny that Russia or 
Austria, being engaged now and for decades to come in 
internal renovation, are less dangerous neighbors than is 
France with its immense available force, and that consider- 
ing this fact our fortresses on the Rhine are more impor- 
tant than the ones on the Vistula or those in the Silesian 


Preparations for War 

The strength of the armies of the neighboring states, 
and the points where they can be advantageously assembled, 
are well known and based on permanent considerations. The 
railroad net, following up the main requirements of com- 
merce, is clearly defined for all time to come. It may be 
added to but never materially changed. 

The large rivers which traverse our land from south 
to north form an unchangeable form of defense. By all 
these permanent conditions, the direction of transportation 
and the first concentration of the Prussian army are gov- 
erned. These can be ascertained in advance, and prepared 
for accordingly, and the value of fortresses in event of 
war can be definitely ascertained. 

However, what course our own operations will take 
is more uncertain the more we study out their probable 
course. Still we may ascertain in advance probable events, 
because they are connected with probable or permanently 
existing conditions. 

We cannot neglect to consider experiences of former 
wars, even if they give us no definite standpoint for future 
action. Half centuries and whole centuries have passed 
since then and have materially changed the political and 
strategical situation. What a different importance had 
Schweidnitz in the newly conquered Silesia, and Graudenz 
as the single Vistula fortress, in the time of the Great King, 
than it has for us now, and who may assume that Stettin 
will again have the importance it had in 1806? 

In order to arrive at our probable aim, we must study 
military events as they will presumably happen in the future 
and consider present conditions as much as possible. In 
this case we have to reckon partly with unknown and 
changed conditions and also with known and permanent 
ones. We cannot arrive at a material and correct result, 
still we can arrive at a probable result, and in war that one 
will always remain the only base on which we have to 
take our measures. 

A war with our neighbors on the west is just one which, 
considering our present conditions, is the most probable. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

France can hardly put more than 350,000 men in the 
field for an attack against us ; it might, in case of need, put 
twice that number in the field to defend its home country. 
The French army is in a very efficient state to take the field ; 
in time of peace, it is stationed prepared against the east 
and may be concentrated in a very short time by utilizing 
the net of railways. We cannot reckon on taking France 
by surprise. 

These very conditions show that an offensive war 
against France promises success only under special un- 
usual conditions. 

Such a war may be avoided, supposing our entire fight- 
ing forces were concentrated on the Rhine and would not 
be attacked, a situation which would have been brought 
about even without the Peace of Villaf ranca in 1859 ; it 
may be executed, if, as at that time, a larger part of the 
French fighting army were held in some other theater of 
war. But in most other cases we should have to be con- 
tented if we should succeed in concentrating our main 
forces under the protection of the Rhine line, in order to 
form there, probably on our own territory, for battle with 
the invading enemy and drive him back. 

According to our calculations, there could arrive: 
100,000 French at Trier on the 21st day ; 80,000 French at 
Aix-la-Chapelle on the 31st day; 100,000 French at Mayence 
on the 35th day; consequently, the defensive war against 
France comes into the foreground which, however, does not 
preclude an offensive continuation of the same. 

In order to attack Prussia only, France can advance be- 
tween Sierck and Saarbriicken without violating non-Prus- 
sian territory. But such a base misses but seven miles (31 
English miles), while the operations against Cologne, which 
must be made on the same base, cover four times that dis- 
tance, lead across the Mosel and the Eiffel against the 
strong Rhine barrier and can be flanked by the latter. As 
an additional matter of fact, France can never permanently 
hold the Rhine province if it captures it, without at the 
same time holding Belgium. 


Preparations for War 

Consequently there are but two lines of action possible : 
one through Belgium towards Cologne, the other through 
the Palatinate or Southern Germany towards Mayence. To 
connect the two, or to cover the flank of one of them, a sec- 
ondary operation via Trier will have to be made. And this 
already shows the necessity of a concentration of the Prus- 
sian field forces at Cologne and Mayence and the desirability 
of a position in observation at Trier. 

A French advance on the lower Rhine threatens the 
very existence of Belgium as well as Holland and endangers 
England's interests. And still the Belgian army confines 
itself to its camp at Antwerp, the Holland army behind its 
Utrecht lines, and England, which is hardly able to protect 
itself, cannot bring help either by land or sea which will 
amount to anything. We ourselves, considering the times, 
cannot afford to protect Belgium's frontiers and have there- 
fore less need to engage in treaties, because it v/ill always 
be advantageous to us to have a French army weaken itself 
in advancing through Belgium and because it will have to 
leave at least 40,000 men in front of Antwerp. Such an op- 
eration will in the end lead to our very strong Rhine front. 

The advance through Southern Germany would bring 
France into conflict with the German Confederation. As 
long as Austria must use all its forces to maintain its po- 
sition at the southern foothills of the Alps and to dominate 
conditions in its interior, it cannot at all be counted on to 
appear for the protection of the upper Rhine, even not if it 
is threatened at the Mincio only by the Italian army. Prus- 
sia also, in the start, cannot meet a French invasion coming 
from Strassburg, it can only drive off the invading enemy 
by an operation. Therefore the VHth and VIHth Confed- 
eration Corps will be too weak to defend Germany's frontier 
against very material superior forces. 

Which of the two operations France will choose is hard 
to say in advance and may possibly not be ascertained at the 
very moment of mobilization. The first leads directly to the 
objective, the latter promises the better assured success. An 
invasion of Southern Germany might easily be but the pre- 
paratory campaign for the execution of an attack on Bel- 


Moltke's Correspondence 

gium and Rhenish Prussia in order to first split up Germany, 
to isolate Prussia, and then to defeat the latter. 

A concentration of the Prussian armies requires ad- 
vance preparations, which have to be made even before we 
know the enemy's intentions. Therefore the first position 
must meet the requirements of different eventualities and 
must be made in such manner that the enemy cannot inter- 
fere with it. 

Cologne and Mayence are the terminals of large rail- 
ways, which traverse North and Central Europe towards 
the west ; on these railways transportation can be had with 
surety under the protection of the Rhine fortresses. From 
the Rhine on, marching will begin; there the operations 

If proper preparations are made, it will be possible to 
concentrate three army corps on the lower Rhine, three on 
the Main, a total of 200,000 men, within three weeks. In 
this we need not fear that we will be disturbed in our pri- 
mary concentrations by a French attack. Conditions are 
not the same at the Mosel, where 25,000 men from Metz can 
arrive within ten days at Trier, that is earlier than the 16th 
Division can be mobilized there. 

By the time the railroads leading toward the Rhine 
will again be free, the mobilization of the other three Prus- 
sian army corps will be completed. They of themselves will 
form a reserve, possibly on the central Elbe or on the Saale. 
It is possible that a part of them has to be held back there 
for the present; for instance, to oppose a landing of hostile 
forces on the German north coast — the advance prepara- 
tion of which cannot be concealed in the French harbors — 
in order to exercise a necessary coercion in Germany, to 
meet interior conditions. But as a matter of fact these 
corps should not be used to operate by themselves as a re- 
serve army or to take up rallying positions, but they should, 
as soon as communications are opened, advance to the rein- 
forcement of the first line of the armies. After these three 
first weeks we may be able to see in which direction this 
reinforcement has to be made, whether towards Cologne, 
towards Mayence,'or supposing misfortune in Southern Ger- 


Preparations for War 

many, towards Wiirzburg or even towards Bamberg. If 
in a war towards the west, France must be assumed to be 
taking the initiative, its operations have to be a governing 
factor in the matter of using our reserves. 

But even should the French main operations be directed 
through Belgium, it would be a question if the lower Rhine 
army ought to be reinforced. 

We can count with assurance on the fact that the Xth 
Confederation Corps will join the Prussian position on the 
lower Rhine, which position protects the entire district of 
the North German States which furnish this corps. Then, 
after deducting the Holstein-Lauenburg contingent, there 
will be 130,000 men concentrated there, which will be suffi- 
cient for defense behind the strong Rhine line in any case, 
and which will make the siege of a fortress there impos- 

A further reinforcement of the Rhine army would be 
justifiable only if we wanted to take the offensive with it. 
This offensive through Belgium would in the first place re- 
lieve Antwerp and would consequently be reinforced by 
some 60,000 men ; but a further continuation of the same 
would lead through the French line of fortresses to the forti- 
fied Paris. It can have no objective, cannot come to an 
earlier stand until the French capital is taken and the 
French Monarchy overthrown. Direct captures and acqui- 
sitions of territory we cannot make or maintain either in 
Belgium or between Belgium and Paris. Consequently we 
could arrive but on an indirect road to the object of war 
indemnification, by dictating peace terms either on the 
Seine or on the Loire. 

The offensive from the Main has a less important but 
more easily attainable objective. It is directed against the 
weaker fortified part of the French frontier. If the prov- 
inces of Lorraine and Alsace, in prior times belonging to 
Germany, should be recaptured, it is quite reasonable to 
assume that we will keep them. A requirement for this is 
that the French army be defeated first in one or more bat- 
tles, that Metz and Strassburg are invested, and that 
these investments are protected by our main forces in the 


Moltke's Correspondence 

field. If this is successful, then we would have an advantage 
in peace negotiations which cannot be attained in operations 
through Belgium. 

A concentration of as many troops as possible on the 
Main is necessary, however, not only for the offensive but 
also for the defensive. 

The defensive task of the Main army is the protection 
of the lower as well as of the upper Rhine by offensive 
flank operations. Advancing through Mayence, making the 
Mosel a base for a continuous movement towards the north, 
it will threaten all communications of a French army which 
may have advanced from Belgium against the lower Rhine. 
Such hostile movements may be met more effectively in such 
a manner than by a direct advance of the same numbers 
from the Rhine line itself. 

An offensive advance of the Main army, on the left or 
on the right bank of the Rhine, as circumstances may dic- 
tate, will most effectively stop any operation of the French 
main army which may be directed against the upper Rhine 
or which may have already been commenced. 

In all these cases we do not consider the Main as a 
flank position but as the base for a flank operation. 

If the South Germans intend to directly defend the 
upper Rhine or the Black Forest, they would completely 
scatter their fighting forces, which are far from sufficient 
for all purposes. Neither an Austrian nor a Prussian 
army could support them there in the start. They have 
only the choice to retreat on Ulm or to advance on Mayence 
in order to draw close to the one or to the other army. 

The retreat of the upper Rhine army in the first di- 
rection would draw along the enemy into the interior of 
Germany, would make Suabia the theater of war and would 
force Baden and Wiirtemberg to treat with the enemy to 
save their very existence. And just the fortified camps 
proposed by Austria offer the best opportunities for such 
treaties with the enenjy. If opposed by a strong French 
army the retreat would not come to a halt even at Ulm 
should the Austrian forces not be there. 


Preparations for War 

At the first glance, an advance of the upper Rhine army 
in the direction of Mayence appears to abandon Southern 
Germany. It is true that Karlsruhe and Stuttgart may be 
occupied or endangered by the enemy, and even Munich 
may also be in the same danger from flying columns. But 
it would be impossible for the enemy to remain there or 
even to advance farther from there if 300,000 men were to 
be in his immediate flank by the advance of the Main Army 
and its junction with the upper Rhine Army. Such a force 
in such a position would draw the enemy and would liberate 
Southern Germany. 

It is the intention of the South German governments 
to concentrate their troops between Rastatt and Germers- 
heim. If this, considering the probability of a rapid French 
advance, will be possible, if the concentration can be made 
possible only on the Jagst or on the Main, is an open ques- 
tion. An absolute requirement for joining Prussia will al- 
ways be the certainty of finding a Prussian army on the 

This clearly shows how important it is for us, in a 
military as well as political respect, to appear on the Main 
as rapid and as strong as possible. In most cases three 
corps will be sufficient for our purposes on the lower Rhine, 
but we cannot be too strong on the Main. Only there can 
Prussia protect Southern Germany, only there can it assure 
to the smaller states the possibility of sticking to Germany, 
and only there can Prussia stand at the head of all German 
fighting forces. 

Not counting the German general interests, and only 
considering mere Prussian conditions, it will be clear that 
the French can not advance even with the strongest army 
from Southern Germany on Berlin as long as Prussia stands 
on the Main with large forces. The worst step we could 
take would be marching off in an easterly direction to oppose 
such an advance. There is no doubt but what our fighting 
force on the Rhine will draw the hostile fighting force as a 
magnet will iron. Back of the Main, between Mayence and 
Frankfurt, we find an excellent position to await the attack 
of even superior forces in which we can reinforce our force 


Moltke's Correspondence 

by parts of the lower Rhine ArmJ^ The right flank of that 
position is protected by the fortress of Mayence and by the 
Rhine, and a French Army can envelop the left flank only 
by endangering its own communications. This would be 
even more difficult of execution if Mayence should, more 
than is the case now, facilitate an offensive advance between 
the upper Rhine and Mayence. 

The very great importance of Mayence is clearly shown 
by what has been said above. 

In a war against the West, Mayence is a shield and a 
sword at the same time for Prussia. It protects the primary 
concentration of our army on the Main, secures the left 
flank of our entire Rhine position, compels the enemy who 
has invaded Southern Germany to an attack on an almost 
impregnable position or forces him to an enveloping move- 
ment which uncovers all of his communications and, finally, 
forms the supporting point for our offensive in the only di- 
rection promising success. We might say that Mayence, 
without being Prussian property, is now the most important 
fortress for Prussia. Its loss would shatter our entire hold 
on the Rhine and give the unprotected southern part of 
Germany to the enemy. 

If we now assume that the Prussian army, in its strong 
position at Mayence and behind the Main, could be over- 
come, then such an assumption necessarily presupposes that 
we are opposed by the French main force and that at the 
same time the lower Rhine cannot be attacked in superior 

The retreat of the Main army across the Taunus can 
not be endangered, as only the left flank of the Main posi- 
tion can be enveloped. Consequently we would unite on the 
Lahn or on the Sieg with the lower Rhine army for renewed 
opposition, and finally, after subsequent defeats, retreat 
from superior numbers through Coblenz or Cologne. On 
the left bank of the Rhine we also find a country entirely 
sufficient to support the army, and after the army has been 
reorganized for renewed operation under the protection of 
the river, it would utilize for the offensive the crossings 
which are protected by fortresses. 


Preparations for War 

If the Prussian fighting force on the Rhine is not com- 
pletely annihilated, which would presuppose grave errors in 
leadership, the French army can not operate against Berlin. 
If an advance by us through Coblenz or Mayence were made, 
the French army would find its communications with France 
endangered on the right bank of the Rhine, while we would 
have the western half of the Monarchy behind us. Ac- 
cording to my views, Berlin and the Provinces are protected 
in the surest and most effective manner by a continuous 
stand on the Rhine. The retreat from the Main to the 
eastern Provinces would easily take the form of a dangerous 
parallel march with the enemy and would hardly come to a 
stand at the Thuringian Forest at Erfurt, but far rather 
only behind the Elbe. 

There now remains to be considered the case of the 
French main attack being made through Belgium towards 
the lower Rhine and probably supported by a secondary 
operation from Metz. 

Undoubtedly the French will find but little resistance 
in Belgium, but they will have to occupy Brussels and will 
have to invest Antwerp with its new, immense fortifications. 
The highroads and the railroads indicate that a further ad- 
vance will be made in direction of Luttich and Aix-la- 

Maastricht then would become of great importance. 
But this place, which requires a very large garrison, the 
Hollanders have intentionally allowed to fall into decay and 
have evacuated. A defensive position on our part between 
Diiren and Jiilich is not without military value. On the 
left are the mountains accompanying the Roer as far as 
Gemiind, a distance of some three to four miles ; these moun- 
tains have no road suitable for an army which has to be 
accompanied by wagons, and on the right Jiilich forms a 
very strong flank protection, even in the state it is now after 
having been razed. 

If we will conduct a decisive battle on the Roer to pro- 
tect our province on the left bank of the Rhine depends en- 
tirely on the question whether or not we have had time to 


Moltke's Coirespondence 

throw a fighting force there which is equal to that of the 
enemy, and on this we cannot reckon with any certainty. 

The hostile operation from Metz would have for us the 
disadvantage of being made at a time when the mobilization 
of the 16th Division has not been completed. Still, if that 
operation is to have a far reaching result, it can be made 
only with the employment of enormous forces. 

The necessary investment, or at least the observation, 
of Luxemburg and Saarlouis, will weaken the attack by 
about 20,000 or 15,000 men, and an absolute superiority of 
forces is required to overcome the resistance of a Prussian 
detachment at Trier. A division in position there can front 
towards the south as well as towards the west behind strong 
sectors, and can allow an enveloping movement to take its 
course, before giving up its position, as it has a freedom 
of choice to fall back on Cologne, Coblenz or Mayence by one 
or the other bank of the Mosel, and because it will find, in 
any direction taken, a support in the terrain for renewed 

In a further advance the army from Metz will have 
its rear to Luxemburg and the Ardennes, and, as long as 
the main French force has not deployed beyond the Maas, 
it will get into the most difficult situation if we on our part 
take the offensive in force from Mayence or Coblenz. 

Of course we know that Luxemburg and Saarlouis 
cannot prevent the invasion of the enemy, but can merely 
hold a force of the enemy equal to about their own garrisons. 
This small effect is not on account of the construction, but 
on account of the situation of the two places. The fortresses 
will gain their full importance only in connection with the 
army of operations. All places on the extreme frontier (or 
as in this case, Luxemburg beyond the frontier) have the 
disadvantage that in the face of an enemy ready for war, 
the army of operation cannot be concentrated in their vicin- 
ity, and that consequently they will attain their actual im- 
portance only in the later phases, if the offensive is taken 
by us, if that offensive can be made in their direction, and 
if until that happens they have not been taken (being left 
to their own resources). We may of course expect from 


Preparations for War 

Luxemburg that it can hold out for several weeks after be- 
ing invested ; this, however, is doubtful of Saarlouis, con- 
sidering its small extent and the well known peculiarity of 
the place. To this comes, that our offensive, in case of an 
attack on the lower Rhine, will be made probably against the 
right flank of the French main army in its advance across 
the Maas, that is towards the northwest, and that time and 
forces on our part may easily be insufficient to make de- 
tachments at the same time towards the southwest to re- 
lieve Saarlouis. 

Trier, of itself much more important than Saarlouis, 
is not so close to the frontier, can consequently be easier 
reached and supported, and would have a far greater value 
as a fortress. 

In our entire military-political relation to France it 
would undoubtedly be desirable to have a larger force than 
two of our army corps permanently stationed in time of 
peace in the western half of the Monarchy. A permanent 
maneuver camp, but far better a fortress of the first class, 
at Trier would fulfill all requirements. A peace garrison 
there of from 10,000 to 12,000 men, which would be joined 
at mobilization by the 16th Divison, would be sufficient to 
protect this part of our frontier, the only part which di- 
rectly joins France. 

We have already mentioned the operation so important 
for the defense of our Rhine front,- which the main army 
will make through Mayence toward the Mosel. If Trier does 
not furnish sufficient support to the detachment concentrat- 
ing there, then that detachment will already have started its 
retreat towards the Rhine, and the Main Army will un- 
doubtedly find the difficult defiles of the Mosel already oc- 
cupied by the enemy. In that case it could advance only via 
Coblenz. If, on the other hand, Trier were fortified, then a 
body of troops could maintain itself there even against 
greatly superior numbers, a second crossing over the Mosel 
would be assured to the Main Army, and its further ad- 
vance would have, on the base Coblenz — Trier, a far greater 
freedom of movement and far greater security for the re- 


Moltke's Correspondence 

We undoubtedly could abandon Saarlouis as soon as 
Trier becomes a fortress. If that could be done without 
Trier being a fortress is a question, in the answer of which 
we must consider also the not altogether military factor, of 
what impression this would have on the inhabitants of the 
left bank of the Rhine, Jiilich having been already razed. 

The invasion of the Rhine Province on the left bank 
does not at all give an assurance of possessing the country, 
as long as the Prussian army has not been beaten and as 
long as one of the three great Rhine fortresses has not been 

The French main army cannot operate directly against 
Coblenz through the Ardennes and the Eifel Mountains, for 
such an advance would expose its flank, after leaving the 
central Maas, to the force assembled at Coblenz. To invest 
Coblenz on the banks of three streams requires very large 
means. It is one of the peculiarities of this place that the 
fall of one of the independent forts would close to us the 
Rhine crossing there, but that the opponent himself can 
use that crossing only after he has taken all the forts, in- 
cluding Ehrenbreitstein. 

Even then the further operations will lead not only 
through the difficult terrain of the Wester Forest, but also 
into the direct sphere of action of our large concentration 
of troops on the Main. 

Of far greater importance than Coblenz to a French 
attack is Cologne, considering its relation to the Rhine 
Province and its highways and railroads. Five marches 
would bring the French army from Liittich to the gates of 
the Rhenish capital. In such a direct advance all of its 
communications would remain protected. 

Arrived at Cologne, it will have to be decided whether 
to attack that place on the left bank, or to invest it on the 
right bank, or whether to cross the stream in the face of 
the lower Rhine Army, to beat that army, and to start the 
investment after that and protect it by the main force of the 

The possession of Wesel would, for a French army, be 
of far less importance than that of Cologne and Coblenz. 

Preparations for War 

In order to secure communications in some measure, the 
French army could march on the left bank of the Maas down 
to Roermond and Venlo, and in doing so, of course, would 
keep as far as possible from the Main army. But in order 
to reach Wesel, the Rhine would have to be crossed at 
Xanten, and an advance by the lower Rhine Army would 
bring about a situation, the disadvantages of which a French 
army could avoid only by a decisive victory. The entire 
operation is possible only by a complete change of the base 
of operations, by landings on a large scale on the coast of 
the North Sea, by cooperation of Denmark and combina- 
tion of a doubtful nature. 

What we have stated above ought to be sufficient to 
show the great importance of Cologne for defending the 
Rhine. The foremost requirement to be made of this place 
is that it should not go to pieces at the first forcible attack ; 
that means it should be impregnable, for a formal siege 
requires that it be invested on two sides and protected to 
the right and left on both banks of the river against the 
two neighboring fortresses — requirements which are hard 
to attain as long as the lower Rhine Army is on the Rhine. 

The operation, probably easiest of execution, might 
be that the French invest Cologne by a strong corps on the 
left bank, gain at Diisseldorf or at Ruhrort a Rhine crossing 
by surprise or by force, and then attack the lower Rhine 

If, however, the latter army accepts the battle 7iot with 
its rear to the Eastern provinces, not with its front to the 
west, but to the north, its left wing touching the Rhine val- 
ley, its right flank the mountains, then even the loss of the 
battle cannot prevent its retreating behind the sectors of 
the Sieg or the Lahn, its joining the Main Army and 
with it advancing to a renewed offensive, in which case 
Cologne and Coblenz would furnish material support 
whether the one or the other bank of the Rhine is used. 

The extraordinary strength of our theater of war on the 
Rhine cannot be misjudged. It could be endangered only, 
if we should take the offensive on the left bank prematurely 
and with insufficient forces. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

In June, 1863, General v. Moltke worked out a memorial, basing 
his views on a war inaugurated by Napoleon III to capture the left 
bank of the Rhine. After an exhaustive contemplation of the proba- 
ble attitude of all interested European Powers, the General gives com- 
parisons of the French and Prussian forces as well as of their con- 
centrations, and finally discusses necessary measures in case the 
French should be in superior numbers in the start. 


Berlin, June 1863. 

If in the near future the political situation of Europe 
invites Emperor Napoleon III to a new operation towards 
the exterior, or if interior conditions in France compel him 
to do so, the left bank of the Rhine will, before all, form 
that terrain which can be immediately reached, taken pos- 
session of, and maintained. The landing of an actual fight- 
ing force on the Baltic coast deserves no serious considera- 

It required the fleets of the two largest maritime powers 
to transport only 64,000 men, almost without cavalry and 
entirely without means of transportation, from one side of 
Black Sea to the other. Preparations for and actual em- 
barkation required 14 days; debarkation, not at all enter- 
fered with by the enemy, 10 days. A similar expedition, 
five times the distance and not made against an isolated ex- 
tremity but against the heart of Russia, or against Prussia 
with its network of railways, promises certain defeat. 

The sympathetic war against Russia, for the restoration 
of Poland, is merely the war against Prussia for the capture 
of the Rhine, which with all its difficulties at least promises 
a certain object and practical results. This long desired an- 
nexation, which in the course of events also. makes the cap- 
ture of Belgium necessary, touches the vital conditions or 
existence of all states in such a degree that it becomes of the 
utmost importance to France to cease the war against the 
immediate participants, before the rest of the world can 
take a hand. 

The fact of the two powers adjoining each other di- 
rectly appears to make this possible, at a time when in the 
largest countries of both hemispheres threatens a war of 


Preparations for War 

principles or of nationalities, or where the war is already 
in progress. 

It is true that at the present moment Russia stands on 
its western frontier ready for war and with large fighting 
forces ; but, harassed by an interior crisis and in war 
against Poland, it will hardly feel inclined, nor be able to 
send an army against French encroachments on the Rhine. 
Under ordinary conditions, when its army is scattered in 
the large expansion of the country from the Vistula to the 
Volga, a Russian army, on account of the slowness of mobili- 
zation, concentration and transportation cannot in time 
arrive from such a distance before the end of the first cam- 

Austria's military forces also are chained down to 
many points. The Magyar and Slavonic races are not yet 
satisfied with the union ; Austria has to continuously watch 
Russia in the Orient concerning the steadily progressing 
decay of the Ottoman Empire ; it has to guard in Italy its en- 
dangered possessions, to regain what it has lost. 

In tlie new Italy, France may see an ally who will draw 
Austria's power in a very large degree to itself and away 
from the Rhine. But this new friend can easily do too much, 
can do what Catholic France dare not countenance. There- 
fore he will have to be watched. 

The Tuilieries may count on Denmark, and possibly 
also on Sweden, to make a diversion, which, eventually sup- 
ported by a French oversea expedition on a small scale, may 
contain a part of the fighting forces in Northern Germany. 
But to do this, E7igland's acquiescence is necessary. If the 
latter should declare against French aggression, its veto in 
the Rhine question will not have an indirect but an immedi- 
ate effect, not by augmenting the German fighting means 
on the Rhine, but by holding back those of the French. At 
the present time England is France's ally; still nothing 
would try this alliance harder than an invasion of Belgium, 
a threatening of the coast of the North Sea, or a threaten- 
ing of AntwerD. The Emoire will have to have a 
regard in respect to England in so many and so very impor- 
tant matters, that it may be presupposed with great cer- 


Moltke's Correspondence 

tainty that it will, in an attack on the Rhine, respect the 
neutrality of Belgium for the sake of England. 

In this case France is still opposed by the entire German 
Confederation, the defensive resistance power of which will 
occupy the entire offensive power of France, and the main 
point will be to confine the battle into limited spaces. At 
the present time, in addition to Prussia, Bavaria, Hesse, 
Oldenburg and the Netherlands occupy territory on the 
left bank of the Rhine. Prussia can in no way be elimi- 
nated, it stands with all its power for the support of the 
Rhine Province. Should the remainder of the Confederation 
States be recompensed elsewhere, the material for that 
recompense could be found only in the Prussian territory on 
the right bank of the Rhine. From it the Rhine will have to be 
captured, it will have to defray the costs of recompense, the 
war is directed before all against Prussia, and in that Prus- 
sia must be isolated, if at all possible. 

It is of course true that a French army can invade the 
Prussian Rhine Province without entering territory not 
belonging to Prussia. Still, the frontier from Sierck to 
Saargemiind is but 32 (English) miles long. An operation 
based on Metz leads for 120 (English) miles parallel to the 
Rhine front across the Mosel and the mountains along it 
to Cologne. Saarlouis would at the same time have to be 
attacked, Luxemburg and Mayence observed, Coblenz in- 
vested and detachments would have to be made against 
Wesel in order to invest Cologne. Without capturing this 
center of the province, the possession of the latter would 
never be secure. It will hardly be possible to involve the 
Prussian fighting forces in a decisive battle against their 
will and before completion of this concentration on the left 
bank of the Rhine, because they, being in firm possession of 
all crossings from Wesel to Mayence, can draw back in any 
desired direction. On the Rhine, of course, a longer halt 
would ensue, which appears dangerous, politically consid- 
ered. But if the entire Prussian fighting force is once con- 
centrated there, then an offensive advance via Coblenz or 
Mayence or on the right bank of the Mosel will cut off all 
communications of the French army with France and force 


Preparations for War 

that army to reconstruct them, with a changed front, 
through the defiles of that stream. 

But France needs a broader base for an attack on 
Prussia, and must extend its base, if Belgium remains 
out of the question in consideration of politics, to Southern 
Germany for military reasons. 

The defense of the entire western frontier of Ger- 
many requires three armies to be placed into position on the 
lower, central and upper Rhine. The strength of the Con- 
federation fighting force not only allows this division, but 
requires it as well as the expansion of the stretch to be 
protected. With due regard to the issue of orders, subsis- 
tence and to mobility, we cannot, without disadvantage, 
make the separate armies stronger than from 150,000 to 
200,000 men and the stream from Schliegen to Cleves is 320 
(English) miles long. 

Of these three armies the central one would have to be 
the strongest. It forms Germany's offensive force, which 
flanks the French advance across the lower as well as the 
upper Rhine and which transfers the war into hostile ter- 

But the dispositions of the enormous fighting means 
of the Confederation is dependent upon collective Confed- 
erate acts, for which not only national strategic thoughts, 
but also manifold local requirements and special interests 
would be the basis. It is easily understood that based on 
actual conditions that the States of the Vllth and Vlllth 
Confederation Corps require a special and strong army 
for the direct protection of their own domain, and if for 
this they demand that parts of their contingents support 
them, they are justified, in so far as that can be done — but 
these States would labor under a delusion if, for instance, 
they should demand that the IXth and the Xth Confedera- 
tion Corps should join the army of the upper Rhine. The 
Prussian position covers all the States of these corps and the 
nearest interests of these States is to do their share in the 
maintaining of that position, the Xth Corps to be on the 
lower Rhine, the IXth Corps to be on the central Rhine. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Even the Saxon Division, should the French troops 
suddenly spread through the open door of Strassburg over 
Southern Germany could not arrive in time for the defense 
of the Black Forest. It would work on the same lines as 
the Prussian or the Austrian corps. 

The Hessian troops undoubtedly will not leave their 
endangered land in order to go to Rastatt or to Ulm, and the 
transportation of the contingents of the Xth Corps from 
north to south would cross the general movement of the 
masses from east to west, which would ruin any projected 
concentration of the armies on the Rhine. 

A direct help in Southwestern Germany can be fur- 
nished only by Austria. The relation of Austria to Germany 
is far too important to the former to let us believe that it 
would not reinforce the upper Rhine Army with all available 
forces and as quickly as possible. It is of course true that 
Austria's position as a European power is very complicated. 
Experience has shown that it cannot at all times have an 
army disposable in Germany. Even in less unfavorable 
political situations than in 1859, and not counting what it 
has to protect in the East and in its interior, it must guard 
its own and German interests in Italy, Tyrol and Switzer- 
land. The occupation of the latter by France touches Aus- 
tria as directly as would an invasion of Suabia. 

The extension of the territory alone makes it difficult 
for Austrian help to become effective on the Rhine and in 
the Black Forest, and this help may be possible only on 
the Iller or on the Danube even with the best and most 
patriotic intentions. 

The fact is there is an absence of a great power in 
Southern Germany directly joining the Rhine, which, as 
is the case in Northern Prussia, would be compelled to an 
immediate holding of the most advanced frontier for its 
vital interests. 

At the first movement of a French attack the contin- 
gents of Southwestern Germany would hardly be sufficient 
to protect Baden and Wiirttemberg and may possibly not be 
able to offer any resistance except at Ulm. 


Preparations for War 

In these conditions the empire might see the possibility 
of separation, which would localize the battle with Prussia. 
However, this very unnatural union, so much in opposition 
to actual interests, or even only neutrality, finds little en- 
couragement in the sentiment of the princes or the people 
of Southern Germany. They would have to be forced into 
a renewal of the Rhine Confederation by armed demonstra- 
tion and France would in any case have to send a special 
army to Southern Germany. 

If we may presuppose Belgium's neutrality, then the 
French fighting forces will have to concentrate between Metz 
and Strassburg for an attack on the Rhine territory, and 
the main operations would have to be made on the Main, 
against the center of gravity of the defense, against the 
Prussian army concentrated there. This direction goes 
around the strong line of fortresses on the lower Rhine in 
the very start, touches the domains of the smaller states, 
separates Prussia from Southern Germany and threatens 
the former's communications between the western and eas- 
tern halves of the Monarchy. It leads to the quick deci- 
sion, on the shortest road which France needs. 

But in order to reach the Main, the Rhine will first 
have to be crossed. A direct advance through the Bavarian 
Palatinate and the Hesse-Darmstadt against Franfurt is 
threatened in the very start in the left flank from the Mosel 
and must be protected on that side by a special army detach- 

After Landau and Germersheim are invested, the prin- 
cipal crossing is at Mannheim as indicated by its road con- 
nections, which is beyond the interference of the important 
point — Mayence. 

From there the right flank of the operation also will 
have to be secured against all that may be disposable from 
the Vlllth and Vllth Confederation Corps. 

Furthermore, it is possible that already at Mannheim 
resistance from the Prussian Army of the Main may be 
encountered, which might increase the difficulties of cross- 
ing there or farther down stream. 


Moltke's Coirespondence 

It is necessary therefore to have a special army, start- 
ing from Strassburg, to throw back from the Rhine the con- 
tingents of Southwestern Germany and by advancing down 
stream on the right bank open the crossings for the main 

Consequently it is no arbitrary assumption, but one 
based on necessity, to say that France will have to put three 
separate armies into the field. The strength of each one 
of them is governed by the objects already discussed. 

The left auxiliary army, starting from Metz and Thion- 
ville, can in the start have the Prussian Vlllth Army 
Corps in its front, and if it advances quickly the latter 
corps may not be fully concentrated. A strength of 45,000 
men assures it the necessary superiority, at least at the 

The army from Strassburg also will find the contin- 
gents from Baden, Hesse, Wiirtemberg and Bavaria con- 
centrated, as its offensive, should the army be of ordinary 
strength, may extend as far as Ulm. Still, Rastatt will 
have to be invested and an advance made towards the Neckar 
in such strength that below the point where the latter flows 
into the Rhine the defender will have to evacuate the bank 
of the Rhine. 

Finally, the army from Strassburg would probably 
find Bavarian or possibly Austrian forces at Ulm and should 
not be weaker than these, even on the defensive. 

All these military, and, later on, political tasks, could 
hardly be solved with less than 90,000 men. 

The French main army then would be composed of the 
remainder of the French offensive forces. 

At the present time France is engaged outside of its own 
territory with : 

40,000 men in Mexico 

1,900 men in Cochin China 
16,200 men in Rome 

Total 58,100 men. 

To these detachments Algeria has contributed 17,466 
men and there remain in Algeria only 37,542 men, the num- 


Preparations for War 

ber of which cannot be decreased on account of conditions 
existing there. Regiments may be taken from there, it is 
true, but they will have to be replaced by others. 

Accordingly, 100,000 men should be deducted from 
France's entire active force. 

Not counting 111,600 men for depots nor new recruits, 
France can now put into the field : 

23 infantry divisions 230,000 men 

15 cavalry divisions 32,000 men 

Artillery reserve ' 24,000 men 

A total of 286,000 men 

Were Emperor Napoleon compelled, in order to re- 
main master of the situation in Italy, to keep an observa- 
tion army in readiness at Lyons, he would hardly be in the 
situation to commence a war against Germany with any hope 
of success. Only were King Victor Immanuel to give a 
guaranty for the wordly possessions of the Pope and be sat- 
isfied with taking Venice, the above stated strength would 
be available, and then of course the Austrian fighting force 
would be drawn from the Rhine. 

The fortresses situated on the northeastern French 
frontier require about 152,000 men for garrisons. Longwy 
and New Breisach, lying on the first line, have to be occu- 
pied with 44,500 men. For this the conscription and oc- 
cupation troops of the Second and Third Corps Districts are 
insufficient. It is true that troops may be called up from 
districts farther in rear, but war garrisons like those of 
Strassburg, Metz and Diedenhofen would undoubtedly al- 
ways require a nucleus of line troops. 

If we however assume, so as not to underestimate 
France's offensive power, that for this and for the Vosges 
between Paris and Lyon, as well as for the protection of the 
coast and the Belgian frontier, 34,000 men would be suffi- 
cient, then there would finally be about 250,000 men dis- 
posable for active operations in the field, and we would have 
to estimate the strength of the different French armies as 
follows : 


Moltke's Correspondence 

1st Army of Metz 45,000 men 

2d Army of Strassburg 90,000 men 

3d Army of Weissenburg and 

Bitsch, at most 115,000 men 

Emperor Napoleon was enabled to bring his armies into 
the wars in the Orient and in Italy into the field in a sur- 
prisingly short time, but there were not over 150,000 men 
then, and the regular army furnished the men, horses and 
materials for these armies. It will be different if the en- 
tire French army has to be mobilized at one and the same 
time, and the most careful researches lead to the belief that 
France can do this no quicker than can Prussia. 

The intention of France to proceed to war will make 
itself manifest in its purchasing many horses, which it 
can do in its own country only partly, in spite of the ma- 
terially increased breeding of horses and the Algerian re- 

For a comparative estimate of time required we should 
count only that day as the first, on which France issues 
orders for the joining of the men on furlough and reserves. 
This order cannot be kept secret and it can be assumed that 
it will immediately be wired to Frankfurt, Berlin and 
Vienna. That day consequently should also be counted the 
first for the mobilization of the German Confederation 

In order to have the troops ready in their garrisons 
to allow the transportation to their concentration points 
to proceed without interruption, it will require, as with us, 
14 days. 

For simultaneous concentration on both sides of the 
Vosges between Strassburg and Metz the 3d and 2d Corps 
will be ordered to march; the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th 
Corps would go by rail. 

The troops in garrisons in the south and west of France 
have to pass either through Lyons or Paris. There is a 
double track-railroad from Lyons to the area of concentra- 
tion, from Paris three may be used with the addition of a 
few marches. 


Preparations for War 

With these communications it will be possible to con- 
centrate all disposable French fighting forces along the 
Rhine-Bavaria-Baden frontier quicker than can be done 
on the Prussian side, having but three trunk railroads from 
east to west (two of them single track). 

There will be assembled for the French main army 
and the army of Strassburg : 

In three weeks 112,000 men 

In four weeks (or to be more 

accurate in 26 days) 205,000 men 

In addition, France has at its immediate disposal in 
the camp at Chalons a corps of 23,000 men which is but 
eight marches from the frontier. If we calculate three days' 
preparation, three days of rest, and two marches toward 
Prussian terrain, if 12,000 reserves are sent by rail to follow 
the corps to Diedenhofen, if the corps is reinforced by 
10,000 men from Metz, Luneville, or nearby garrisons, then 
it may be possible that 45,000 men can be at Trier on the 
16th day to interfere with the mobilization of the 17th Di- 
vision and to prevent the bringing uf> of war garrisons for 
Luxemburg and Saarlouis. 

This utilization of the nearest ready fighting means 
would only then be resultless, if at the stated time the Vlllth 
Prussian Army Corps were already concentrated on the 

Furthermore, preparations might be made in secret to 
bring the 23,000 men in camp at Chalons in about four days 
to Forbach immediately after orders therefor are received; 
from there they would probably, without encountering re- 
sistance, appear in seven to eight forced marches through 
the Palatinate on the 12th day in front of Mayence, to try 
to execute a blow against that place. But Mayence, as a 
fortress, is in an excellent condition for defense; all that 
remains to be done is to provide it with a garrison of in- 
fantry and especially of artillery. If we are at all alert it 
will not be diflficult to do this, using Prussian or Darmstadt 
detachments. For a permanent support of this and other 
similar undertakings, as well as for the opening of the cam- 


Moltke's Correspondence 

paign on the Rhine, the necessary fighting forces, as already 
shown, are not so readily at hand. 

If we now take a glance at the defensive means of Ger- 
many, we see that the eight Confederation corps are equal 
to the French offensive force, and that by the junction of 
other Prussian or Austrian corps we will have a decided 
superiority, as soon as the masses are at our disposal on 
the frontier. 

We must not lose sight of the fact that, considering 
the enemy will take the initiative and also considering the 
extensive railroad net, the entire hostile fighting force can 
be concentrated on the northern frontier of France against 
Belgium and Germany quicker than can our forces on the 
Rhine. That frontier and the Rhine converge from the 
100 [English] miles long line between Lille and Wesel to- 
ward the southeast and finally join on the Lauter. 

Consequently danger of an immediate contact is smaller 
on the lower Rhine and the possibility of an uninterrupted 
concentration there more secure, than on the upper Rhine. 

Therefore we see in advance that the necessary forces 
to defeat a hostile advance through Belgium are easier to 
concentrate than would be the case against an advance from 

For the assembly of the Prussian main forces, three 
different fields of concentration come into main considera- 

1. The Bavarian Palatinate. In addition to the 
main army there the Vlllth Prussian Army Corps would 
have to be placed on the Mosel, the Vllth and Vlllth Con- 
federation Corps on the Murg. The distance between Lux- 
emburg and Rastatt is more than 80 [English] miles, and 
one main army and two auxiliary armies (in direct com- 
munication with the main army) will be sufficient. 

This first position of the German arms in the face of 
their restless neighbor should receive the preference, theo- 
retically, to any other ; it more than any other covers all 
Confederation lands against the west, has an absolute offen- 
sive character, and leads most surely to a retorsion of the 


Preparations lor War 

hostile attack. But it presupposes Belgium's neutrality ; at 
least were that not to be presupposed, all those fighting 
means would drop away which are required for the defense 
of the lower Rhine. It further presupposes a single leader- 
ship, and one which is forceful enough and not allow itself 
to be confused or hindered in the pursuit of the general 
object by particular and special interest — requirements 
hard to meet in practice considering the division of Ger- 
many into states and position of its two great Powers ex- 
tending beyond the frontier of the Confederation. And not 
at all counting these considerations, the very unequal con- 
dition of readiness for war of the different contingents, of 
the great distance, in spite of the generally favorable con- 
verging of the trunk lines of the German railways towards 
the central Rhine, will hardly allow a concentration in the 
Palatinate, which is unprotected by a larger natural ob- 
stacle and so near the French frontier. We have seen that 
after four weeks already 200,000 French can advance, to 
that point. 

' This shows that we must enter the Palatinate in the 
course of the operation but must not designate it as the 
rendezvous of separately arriving corps. 

2. More easy of access and next in offensive effect 
appears to be a concentration of the main force behind the 
protecting sector of the Mosel. It would be possible, by rail 
transportation to Cologne, Coblenz, and Mayence, in addi- 
tion to marches, to concentrate within 33 days on the Mosel : 

1 Prussian army corps at Trier and beyond, 
4 Prussian army corps at Wittlich, 
1 Prussian army corps at Coblenz, 

a total of 200,000 men. This position covers the Prussian 
possessions directly, is protected from envelopments on the 
right by Luxemburg, on the left by the Rhine, has a strong 
obstacle in its front, and the most assured retreat to the 
Rhine fortresses. 

The distance from Luxemburg to Basel is 160 [English] 
miles and consequently it becomes necessary to have two 
independent main armies, that is, in addition to the one 


Moltke's Correspondence 

on the Mosel another one on the upper Rhine. If Austria 
is in the situation to send its three Confederation corps to 
the latter and to the Rhine, then both armies will co-operate, 
at least in the offensive. And even in the defensive each 
and any attack movement of the French against the one 
or the other would have one of them on their flank. 

But unfortunately it cannot be denied that the oppon- 
ent can appear on the Mosel or on the upper Rhine several 
days earlier, i.e., in the start with superior forces, before 
the concentration there is completed. 

This position consequently would be the correct and 
executable one, if the neutrality of Belgium were assured 
and if the first concentration were prepared in advance by 
corps mobilized before then. 

3. More secure and more certain of execution in any 
event finally is a co7icentration of the main forces on the 
Main, because this field of concentration is directly reached 
by rail from all parts of Germany, is more distant from the 
French frontier, and protected by the powerful Rhine line. 
Of course in this case we cannot protect at the first moment 
with the means at hand the German territory on the left 
bank of the Rhine against hostile invasion. — The concentra- 
tion on the Main is a necessary make-shift in the face of 
the initiative left to France by the separation of Germany, 
and the defensive line, 280 [English] miles, from Wesel to 
Basel requires the placing of three separate armies, namely : 
One on the lower Rhine, which, however, if Belgium re- 
mains neutral and if time allows, can immediately advance 
to the Mosel, one on the Main and one on the upper Rhine. 

Prussia has the military power and has enough general 
German as well as special Prussian interests to furnish the 
preponderant part of two of these armies, which the Con- 
federation States can join in accordance with their geo- 
graphical situation. It will furnish these two armies even 
should it be confined entirely to its own resources. 

The Rhine with its fortresses will always remain the 
defensive front of Prussia against France. This line is so 
exceedingly strong, as to not at all require the total fight- 


Preparations for War 

ing forces of the Monarchy for holding it and the larger 
part of the forces will remain available for an offensive 
which can be made from the center or from one of the 

The right wing is secured against France by distance 
mainly. Its envelopment, 200 (English) miles, across the 
lower course of the Schelde, Maas and the Rhine and past 
Antwerp through Belgium and Holland is impossible in con- 
sideration of military and political reasons. 

It is true that the left wing is advantageously sup- 
ported by Mayence, still for reasons which have already 
been explained, it needs a strong army for the offensive as 
well as for a permanent defensive. 

In assigning positions to the contingents of the central 
and minor States of Germany, we cannot leave their terri- 
torial interests out of sight. Each one of them will demand 
to have its domain secured. Prussia's position on the Rhine 
secures this protection to the north. Giving political riv- 
alries first consideration, we can adopt other systems in 
timie of peace, but in case of war with France the pressure 
of the situation will force the Xth and Xlth Confederation 
Corps to join the Prussian defense. Even the Saxon Divi- 
sion, if it actually joined the South German army at Ras- 
tatt, would certainly not retreat on Ulm but on Wiirzburg, 
and would consequently enter the sphere of operations of 
the Army of the Main. 

The defense of Southern Germany will in the start be 
the task of the Vllth and the Vlllth Confederation Corps 
and the Illd Austrian Corps. 

We have mentioned above that Austria will have to 
protect not only its own interests but also German territory 
by a strong deployment of forces in Italy, the Tyrol, and 
Switzerland. The distance alone shows that it is improb- 
able that the corps, which Austria designates for a German 
theater of war, can be disposable in the start at the upper 
Rhine. If they will be, after the course of about three 
weeks, in position there or in Voralberg, or in Tyrol, or in 
lower Austria, depends on the very much complicated Euro- 


Moltke's Correspondence 

pean position of the Empire. Consequently we must con- 
sider the possibility that the Austrian contingent cannot 
appear at the start on the upper Rhine for the defense of 
Southern Germany. 

If in the time mentioned (3 weeks) 100,000 French- 
men can deploy via Strassburg, then of course the most 
obvious reasons force Southern Germany to at once con- 
centrate all of its own forces. 

A local defense of the Rhine can have no possible suc- 
cess and to concentrate the Vllth and the Vlllth Confed- 
eration Corps, even if immediately behind the Black Forest, 
would mean to leave Baden at least entirely defenseless. 
Having an extent of 300 [English] miles and directly join- 
ing France, and with a depth of but two or three marches, 
this frontier territory can be protected only by a flank posi- 
tion in the Rhine valley, and Rastatt is the only place for 

Wiirtemberg also cannot be held at the start against 
superior hostile forces, and both of these states can be 
liberated again only by the help of Austria or Prussia. In 
accordance as to whether this help arrives quicker and 
stronger from the north or from the east, the retreat will 
have to be made on either the Iller or the Main. Thus it is 
probable that in that case only the latter direction is the 
proper one for all troops which Bavaria places in the field 
for the protection of the Palatinate, and also for the Baden 

Concentrated on the Murg the Baden contingent covers 
at least its lower Rhine district ; there it forms the advance 
guard of the Main army which is then only but five marches 
distant, and through which army alone it can be supported 
in time. 

It is of undoubted interest to Prussia, the political con- 
ditions of which are more simple than those of Austria, to 
meet a French attack against Germany with its entire 

Even if we can expect no gratitude from Russia on 
account of our attitude during Poland's insurrection, that 


Preparations for War 

power is chained down too much by interior conditions to 
prevent or interfere with the utilization on the Rhine of 
our army corps in the east of the Monarchy. We can with- 
out fear trust the cadre and garrison battalions of the dis- 
tricts close by to maintain order in the Grand-Duchy of 

It seems improbable that Denmark, even if Sweden 
helps it, will take the offensive against Germany. If France 
would bring about such a diversion it has to support it by 
troops which we would not have to fight on the Rhine in 
that case. A Prussian and the Xth Confederation Corps 
will probably be sufficient to meet this threatening danger 
and to guard the coasts. 

The mobilization of the army and the transportation 
of four army corps to the Rhine will take the first four 
weeks. Thereafter we may be able to see how many of 
the others will have to be held back, how many can follow 
up and into which direction they are to be started. 

We may in general designate Cologne and Mayence as 
the first concentration direction in any war with France, 
consequently we can regulate the transportation in advance. 
Our railroad net does not lead across the Rhine in toto; 
there are now only two single-track lines to Aix-la-Chapelle 
and a similar one to Trier, the latter in addition passing 
immediately along the French frontier. Consequently an 
interruption has to occur on the Rhine and marching re- 
sorted to for any further concentration farther west. On 
the other hand, railroads and steamers connect the two ter- 
minals, Cologne and Mayence, which allows, according to 
necessity, of sending troop transports from one to the other 

To the Rhine and to the Main the present railroad net 
forms three independent trunk lines from east to west and 
one like it from north to south. 

The concentration will be effected in the shortest pos- 
sible time if 

The Vllth Army Corps concentrates by marching, 
The Vlth Army Corps is sent via Bamberg, 


Moltke's Correspondence 

The IVth Army Corps is sent via Cassel, 
The Vth Army Corps is sent via Hanover, 
The Vllth Army Corps is sent via Wetzlar. 

The last four corps (exclusive of a part of the Land- 
wehr cavalry) will reach with their rear detachments the 
terminals of the transport by the 27th day. 

To where these terminals should be transferred, how 
far the transport trains should go, whether the troops ar- 
riving at Cologne should be immediately sent farther up 
stream or those arriving at Mayence and Frankfurt down 
stream, can be regulated, considering connections anl facil- 
ities along the river, according to conditions then existing. 

Should the neutrality of Belgium be still doubtful, then 
we could place, after the end of the first four weeks : — 

The Vth and Vllth Army Corps at Cologne and Aix-la-Chapelle; 
The Vlllth Army Corps at Coblenz and Trier; 
The IVth and Vlth Army Corps at Frankfurt and Mayence, 

If we can ascertain by that time that the Belgian terri- 
tory will not be touched, the Vth Army Corps can immedi- 
ately be sent via Cologne to Coblenz and the Vllth via Wetz- 
lar also to Coblenz or to Frankfurt. 

Thus, in the same space of time, there would be as- 
sembled either : — 

The Vlllth, Vllth and Vth Army Corps on the Mosel between 

Trier and Coblenz, 
The Vlth and IVth Army Corps on the Main between Mayence 

and Frankfurt; 

Or, if we may expect but an auxiliary army on the 
Mosel, and the main hostile force in the Palatinate and 
Southern Germany: — 

The Vlllth and Vth Army Corps on the Mosel between Trier 

and Coblenz, 
The Vlth, IVth and Vllth Army Corps on the Main, between 

Frankfurt, Mayence and Darmstadt. 

Then there would be, for bringing up the corps from 
the eastern provinces, in any case two (the northern) rail- 
roads clear and within five days one corps, the Illd, could 
be brought to Cologne, Coblenz or Mayence, followed by 
the lid Corps. 


Preparations for War 

Within five weeks we can have concentrated: 

On the Mosel On the Main 

Either 140,000 and 70,000] 

or 105,000 and 105,000 a total of 210,000 men. 

or 35,000 and 175,000 J 

If by that time at least the Vllth and the Vlllth Con- 
federation Corps have reached the upper Rhine and the 
IXth Confederation Corps the Main, and if by that time 
the French masses have not yet crossed the frontier, then 
we could take the position mentioned under (1) above: 

200,000 men in the Palatinate, 
35,000 men on the Mosel, 
80,000 men on the Murg. 

But there is little hope of being able to do that, considering 
what we have already said of the enemy's preparedness. 

On the other hand, the question arises for Prussia: 
Is it more advantageous and more correct to concentrate 
the larger number of Prussian corps on the Mosel or on the 

If our own main force can be in position at the proper 
time and strong enough on the Mosel and occupy the Saar 
line, then we will defend at the same time our entire terri- 
tory, abandon not a single foot of it to the enemy, secure 
the inhabitants on the left bank of the Rhine against hostile 
invasion, and will not have to commence at the very start 
with a retreat. If we are strong enough our offensive from 
the Mosel will protect the Rhine Palatinate and indirectly 
even the upper Rhine. These advantages are self-evident; 
the question only is, can the concentration be made? 

A comparison of rail transportation in France and 
Germany shows : 

During the first stages of the war, we cannot oppose a 
suitable detachment ready for operation to the French 
corps assembled in Chalons, which is 35,000 men strong, 
inclusive of reserve, and which can reach Trier on the 
fourteenth day. 

In order to secure the mobilization of the 16th Division 
it would have to be started before the outbreak of war ; or, 


Moltke's Correspondence 

a permanent maneuver camp must be prepared by us on 
the Mosel; or, Trier must be made a fortress of the 1st 

On the twenty-first day 160,000 men can be assembled 
at those points on the French northeastern frontier from 
which the advance is to be made. (That the French would 
commence their mai7i operations earlier than on that day 
and with less forces is not probable, considering the lack 
of artillery necessary for the mobilization of a larger army.) 
But if they start only on the twenty-second day from the 
line Diedenhofen — Bitsch, they can, after investing Saar- 
louis with about 10,000 men, be ready without doubt on the 
twenty-eighth day to cross the Mosel from Trier to Trar- 
bach with 150,000 men. 

We have seen above that by that day the Vlllth, Vllth 
and Vth Corps can be concentrated at Wittlich. These three 
corps number together about 100,000 men. 

It is true that the transports of the Vlth Army Corps 
on the Saxony — Bavaria line, which unfortunately is not 
very reliable, can be ordered to proceed at once via Mayence 
down the Rhine to Coblenz. As the direct march from 
Bingen via Simmern is then hardly safe, and as the facilities 
of all steamers and of the railroads along the Rhine will be 
fully taken up by transporting the Vth Army Corps from 
Cologne to Coblenz, the timely arrival of the corps at Witt- 
lich is somewhat doubtful and even if it arrives in time it 
would not make our force there equal to the French." 

In addition, as shown above, a part of the French fight- 
ing force coming from Chalons can have occupied Trier 
several days before and can have started towards Wittlich. 

Therefore the first assembly of our fighting force there 
cannot be ordered with certainty. For that, security of the 
upper Mosel is necessary, and there is not time for that. 
Here also the strategic importance of Trier plainly appears. 

Considering the conditions as stated and the railroads 
now existing, the first concentration of our main force can 
be effected with absolute certainty on the Main only, should 
the outbreak of war find our army still on a peace footing. 


Preparations for War 

If in that case the French intend to advance with 150,- 
000 men towards the Mosel, an invasion of the Rhine Pro- 
vince would ensue, as we have already stated, but by no 
means a permanent occupation of the same. On the other 
hand, the army designated to undertake the task must not be 
weaker than 45,000 men, if after all unavoidable detach- 
ments, it is to be equal to our Vlllth Army Corps, which 
gradually assembles. 

This will leave the French 115,000 men, which, con- 
centrated in front of the Forbach — Lauterburg line and 
crossing the frontier on the 22d day, cannot appear before 
the 29th day in front of Mayence and Frankfurt and that 
with 100,000 men at most, even if they do not encounter 
any resistance in the Palatinate or when crossing the Rhine. 
We have seen that by that time the Vlth, IVth and Vllth 
Army Corps, also 100,000 men strong, will be concentrated 
on the Main; and in- addition a part of the Illd Army Corps 
will have arrived there and we can also count on the arrival 
of the Hesse-Nassau contingents. 

The French, who will also have to secure themselves 
against Mayence, would then have to force a crossing of the 
Main against probable superior forces. Through a junc- 
tion of the Vth with the Vlllth Army Corps there would 
be, at the same time, considerably superior forces opposed 
to the French auxiliary army in the Rhine Province. 

It is therefore very probable that the French will com- 
mence their main operations only when all their fighting 
forces, 250,000 men, are disposable, that is, on the 26th day, 
at which time Prussia can have but 176,000 men concen- 
trated on its western frontier. 

As the French cannot encounter serious resistance in 
either the Rhine Province or in the Palatinate, they would 
reach with their auxiliary army Trier, and with a strong 
advance guard (after having invested Landau and Ger- 
mersheim) Mannheim on the 26th day, would try to secure 
the Rhine crossings there and in that vicinity, and, follow- 
ing with the main body in the same direction, reach the 
Main with about 180,000 men on the 32d day. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Although on the 32d day the Hid Corps will have joined 
the Vlth, IVth and Vllth there, the total strength, inclusive 
of the Hesse-Nassau contingents, will be only 150,000 men. 

Of course in the meantime the transport of the Vth 
Army Corps would have been continued via Cologne to and 
on the Rhine and thereby we could oppose the French at- 
tack on the Main in equal force ; still in that case the VHIth 
Army Corps would remain without any support and our 
Rhine Province would remain in the hands of the enemy. 

In order to meet this primary superiority of the French, 
the Main army has three different options. It can : 

(a) Take the offensive via Mayence to the left bank of the 
Rhine to interfere with the enemy's advance, or 

(b) await that advance on the defensive behind the Main, or 

(c) conduct an active defense behind the Rhine line from May- 
ence to Mannheim. 

The offensive procedure is the most desirable one. it 
is the more audacious operation, although the most pre- 
carious one. 

(a) The fortifications of Mayence favor the deploying 
as well as the retreat of large masses of troops, which later, 
in an unfavorable outcome, can also be directed toward 

With a full strength of 140,000 men we could take up 
this operation hardly before the 33d day. But we know that 
the French will be ready with larger forces already on the 
26th day and that they can have invested Mayence on the 
left bank on the 33d day. Therefore we must start earlier, 
about the 28th day, and consequently weaker, with 100,000 
men, in which case the first contact would take place very 
close to Mayence. It is possible that this contact will come 
unexpectedly to the French, that we will meet with our 
whole force only one of their columns and will gain a suc- 
cess at the very start. For, considering the enormous num- 
bers, the opponent will probably advance on the five exist- 
ing roads, which are 52 [English] miles from each other at 
the frontier. These roads converge towards Mayence in 
such manner that about opposite Alzey it would require but 


Preparations for War 

one march to assemble all columns, and we might possibly 
have to fight with double our number, which would not be 
offset even if we could count by that time on the co-operation 
of the Vth and Vlllth Army Corps coming from the Mosel. 

Even if at this time the French have crossed the Rhine 
at Strassburg with 90,000 men, they would meet us in the 
Palatinate with about equal numbers. Should a stronger 
detachment towards the Black Forest suffice to secure the 
right flank of the Strassburg Army against the South Ger- 
man contingents, then at about the time when we are en- 
gaged in the Palatinate, that army could have reached the 
Neckar and we would hardly have any other choice than to 
either return to behind the Main or to base ourselves on the 
Mosel only. 

In that case it would most decidedly be best for us to 
take the offensive through the Palatinate, if the rest of 
Germany is willing and ready for a forceful and offensive 
conduct of the war, if the IXth Confederation Corps were 
joined with the Prussian corps on the Main, if the Vllth and 
Vlllth Confederation Corps, supported by Austrian corps, 
would attack the Strassburg Army or hold it. But if we 
could presuppose such a deployment of the German fight- 
ing forces and such a combined action, the French attack 
would hardly be made. 

(b). If, on the other hand, we remain on a strict 
defensive behind the Main, then the French, provided they 
start on the 27th day and advance through the Palatinate 
across the undefended Rhine, could, after leaving 20,000 
men in front of Landau and Germersheim, reach Darmstadt 
with 180,000 men on the 33d day. 

According to reconnaissances so far made it is true 
that our Main Army of 150,000 men will find a favorable 
defensive position behind the Nidda, between Hochst and 
Bonames. In attacking its front the enemy would be con- 
fined, in a very disadvantageous manner, to the limited 
terrain between that creek and the Main. Enveloping our 
left wing via Hanau and Aschaffenburg would endanger 
all French communications, must be protected against May- 


Moltke's Correspondence 

ence, and requires more than one day's march to reach 
our roads of retreat across the Taunus. 

But the danger in the defensive lies in the enemy's 
throwing back our right wing, forcing us into the direction 
of Cassel and cutting our communications with the lower 
Rhine, on which stream we intend to base all our operations, 
even towards the east, should the French desire to pass our 
position that way, 

Mayence being 12 [English] miles distant, no longer 
directly protects this right wing, and a mere observation of 
the Main as far as Mayence would not at all suffice, as that 
stream, unimportant in itself, can easily be bridged, and 
is even fordable at places. To this must be added, that on 
account of the densely wooded terrain to the south, the 
exact intention of the enemy can be preceived only at the 
last moment. 

Therefore the position behind the Nidda cannot be 
occupied in the very start and held under all eventualities. 
After the enemy will have driven back all our observation 
detachments sent across the Main, the corps would first 
have to be concentrated in bivouacs, about around Hofheim, 
so that they could take a position with the right as well as 
with the left wing on Hochst. In this the left flank should be 
covered by a detached division which, through local defense 
of Frankfurt, gains the necessary time for the army to go 
into position behind the Nidda or on the Main below the 
mouth of the Nidda. 

Should there be no good defensive position between 
Hochst and Mayence, then one must be sought farther in 
rear and in immediate connection with that place, that is 
at Erbenheim, in order that above all else the right wing 
and the connection through the Taunus with the Rhine will 
remain secure. 

Nevertheless, a hostile superiority of 30,000 or 40,000 
men will be felt in any position. It would be off"set after 
five days by the arrival of one Prussian corps (probably the 
lid) which would be disposable even if we were compelled 
to leave two corps in the eastern Provinces against Den- 


Preparations for War 

mark or Poland. Finally, by the 38th day, the Saxon Divi- 
sion would probably complete the IXth Confederation Corps 
on the Main, for the purpose of which the railroad would 
become available on the 28th day. Then the superiority 
would be on our side, and it is self-evident how important 
it is to delay the French advance, even if for but a few 
days. This, it is plain, can be done only if we are able to 
dispute the Rhine crossing with the enemy. 

(c). If the Vlth Army Corps is transported at once 
to Darmstadt and partly beyond it, the most important 
points between Mayence and Mannheim on the right bank 
of the Rhine can be occupied on the 28th day, that is, on the 
arrival of the French, and if any French detachments have 
already arrived that far they can be driven back ; thereafter 
the IVth and Vllth Army Corps can be concentrated about 
Bensheim in a central position of readiness, from where 
they can reach threatened points between Mannheim and 
Oppenheim in one day's march. On this stretch then a 
Rhine crossing could hardly be forced in the face of 100,000 
men, because during the execution of the crossing the enemy 
could not bring his superiority of numbers into play. 

If the opponent declines to take the shortest route to 
the Main and should try a crossing above Mannheim, it 
would be doubtful if he could throw a bridge there consid- 
ering the proximity of Germersheim and the presence of 
the Baden contingents which we would support. In case 
of success he would still have to force the Neckar line, from 
which line our retreat to behind the Main would not at all 
appear to be endangered. 

The French at the present time own at Strassburg a 
crossing over the Rhine which the Main army, on account 
of its distant situation from there, cannot dispute with 
them. If they intend to take that route with their entire 
force, then to cover that distance, the necessity of moving 
two such important masses in the narrow Rhine valley on 
at most two roads, the siege of Rastatt and Germersheim, 
and the crossing of the Neckar would take so much time as 
to make it impossible for them to reach the Main before the 


Moltke's Correspondence 

38th day, at which time our reinforcements would have 
arrived and we would have become the stronger party. 

As a matter of fact the French have the numerical 
superiority only in the first phases of the campaign and, 
in order to bring them into play, are compelled to attack the 
Prussian army on the Main in the shortest possible time, 
that is, on the most direct route. For this they will require 
an army which, advancing on the right bank of the Rhine, 
opens the crossings on that stream to their main army. 
This means that the French army will have to be separated 
into two parts, the main army advancing through the Pal- 
atinate, and the second army, which, however, must also 
be strong, operating from Strassburg down stream. This 
of course complicates our task more and more. 

We have to make a defense of not only our front on 
the Rhine, but also of the flank on the Neckar. This is not 
so serious as it looks, because we will be in a position be- 
tween the two separated main forces of the enemy. We can 
defend the Rhine with smaller forces and the Neckar with 
our main forces. As the danger increases so also increases 
the prospect of a decisive victory. 

If the Strassburg army has been compelled to weaken 
itself materially in front of Rastatt and the South German 
contingents, then we will oppose it on the Neckar with su- 
perior forces. If then the Wiirttembergers and Bavarians 
are able to take the offensive on their part, it will hardly 
be possible for the army of the French right wing to avoid 
a complete defeat. 

Still we must not shut our eyes to the danger threaten- 
ing us should, during our advance south, the French main 
army succeed in crossing the Rhine below Mannheim. In 
that case we would be cut off from the lower Main and from 
the Rhine Province, and would have to lay our base on the 
eastern provinces. 

It is true that in the closest connection with the Vllth 
and Vlllth Confederation Corps, we would, after having 
driven the French right wing back across the Rhine, be 
fully equal to the center of the French army after it has 


Preparations for War 

advanced, but in that case entirely new conditions will 

Which of the three operations here discussed will be the 
correct one for the Main army, cannot be definitely decided 
on in advance, for that depends on conditions obtaining 
after concentration has been completed. 

When in August, 1866, during the peace negotiations between 
Prussia and Austria, the attitude of France seemed to indicate an 
interference of France in those negotiations. General v. Moltke ad- 
dressed a memorial to the Minister-President Count v. Bismarck, 
in which he discussed the military measures to be taken in case of 
a war with France. 


To THE Minister-President, Count v. Bismarck- 


Berlin, 8 August, 1866. 

Your Excellency will allow me to hand you the en- 
closed short exposition concerning our military attitude 
against France at this time, and I desire to remark that 
according to our calculations France cannot concentrate 
an army of operation of 250,000 men between Metz and 
Strassburg earlier than in 26 days. 


It is of manifest importance to arrive at a definite set- 
tlement with Austria as soon as practicable in order to have 
a free hand against the east and the west, if our neighbors 
should try to rob us of the fruits of our victory. In the nego- 
tiations at Prague, consequently, minor points are of no 
importance ; the main point should be to again have at our 
disposal the troops now in Bohemia and in Moravia. 

The first probability might be that France may demand 
from us cession of terrain, which would be in opposition 
to the task now set Prussia to unite all of Germany and to 


Moltke's Correspondence 

protect it, a task, for the solution of which we have just 
taken the first and most important step. 

Should France make such a demand, the naturally 
resulting war would be a popular one within the entire 
German territory, outside of Austria. It cannot be at all 
doubtful that an alliance against France would be formed 
with the South German States against the surrender of the 
whole or of even the greater part of the territory occupied 
by us south of the Main. In such a case not only a con- 
federation with the North German States, but also with 
the states composing the entire territory of Germany would 
ensue, and would receive new life. Considering their pres- 
ent state of readiness for war and their present location, 
the South German contingents could be concentrated at 
Mannheim within from 8 to 10 days numbering some 
80,000 men. By the same time there could be concentrated 
around Mayence our Main army (by marching) and the 
lid Reserve Corps, dependent on whether the latter re- 
mains at Nuremburg or is at once started on the march 
to Wiirzburg, by rail or by marching — a force of 90,000 

In no case could France concentrate in so short a time 
an offensive army which would be strong enough to cross 
the Rhine at any point in the face of these first positions ; 
and when peace has been established with Austria, the ques- 
tion would only be as to the time in which the French army, 
equal to our own, can be concentrated in the west. 

Conditions for a war of the French Empire against 
victorious Prussia and the united German people at this 
very instant appear so little favorable, that it undoubtedly 
will not be engaged in, unless an understanding has already 
been arrived at with Austria for the continuation of the 
war, which of course would make all peace negotiations of 
no use. 

Therefore it is necessary to look at this probability from 
a military standpoint. 

As, in accordance with treaty stipulations, Italy cannot 
come to peace terms without our sanction, Austria would 


Preparations for War 

have to send at least the largest part of its South Army to 
the other side of the Alps, and this appears to have been 
done already. Consequently there could be only some 150,000 
men opposed to us on the Danube, a force which is in part 
badly demoralized by the battle of June and July of the 
present year. 

Still, I do not believe that we can afford, in a simul- 
taneous war with France, to continue the offensive war 
against Vienna, as that offensive, provided it is not to 
come to a standstill on the Danube, would require all our 
forces. Of course, should the Austrians advance beyond 
the Danube, we could concentrate 160,000 to 180,000 men 
on the Thays within eight days and presumably win an- 
other battle with that force. However, it is not at all prob- 
able that they will do that, they will far rather remain on 
the defensive behind that stream until French codperation 
becomes effective. The armistice agreed on is for four weeks 
and that space of time is sufficient for the French prepara- 
tions and even if our preparations are completed before then, 
we need time to transport our armies from the Danube to 
the Rhine. 

Should Austria raise serious difficulties in the confer- 
ence at Prague, it will indicate an understanding with 
France, and consequently our military forces in Bohemia 
should not be reinforced, but should at once be transported 
to the Rhine. 

Four army corps, about 120,000 men, will be sufficient 
to successfully carry on, from the vicinity of Prague, a de- 
fensive based on Dresden, which is fortified. 

By the 9th of September there can have arrived at 
Mayence and Mannheim a total strength of 150,000 men — 
two army corps by rail via Oderberg — Berlin — Cologne, 
one army corps by rail from Dresden — Leipzig — Cassel 
and the Elbe army, presupposing a union with South Ger- 
many, on the two roads from Eger — Wiirzburg — Frankfurt 
on the Main and Pilsen — Nuremberg — Stuttgart — Bruchsal, 
provided a start is made on August 22 ; the strength of the 
North German forces there will then be increased to a 
total of 240,000 men. 

—117 — 

Moltke's Correspondence 

We would have to count off 15,000 troops of the line for 
Mayence, the exclusive possession of which place must be 
secured in the treaties with the South German States, and 
further about that many more troops of the field army for 
Saarlouis, Coblenz, Cologne, Wesel and Luxemburg. 

This will leave more than 200,000 men, and counting 
in the South German contingents we will have an army of 
operation of nearly 300,000 men. 

But in arriving at these results we must take cogni- 
zance of the following assumptfons : 

(a) That Prussia alone exercises the right of garrison- 
ing Mayence, in order to have that place absolutely secure 
against any and all French undertakings. 

(b) That the governments of Bavaria, Wiirttemberg, 
Baden and Hesse-Darmstadt place their railroads and ma- 
terials at our disposal for the transportation of the Elbe 

(c) That the Bavarian troops at once take a position 
somewhere along the Wiirttemberg frontier, to be in a 
position to reach the Rhine by marching within ten days. 
We cannot count on the contingents of the remaining South 
German States reaching there within that time, if they are 
now at their respective stations. 

In treaties with the South German States these three 
points should not be lost sight of. 

It is not probable that France will make its attack 
through Belgium. By doing so it would come into conflict 
with England and would have to weaken its forces materi- 
ally by occupying Belgium and Antwerp. 

An invasion of Southern Germany would not directly 
lead to the desired object, because it would leave Prussia 
unendangered and would always have the German armies 
on its flank. 

Without doubt, ths French attacking army would, ad- 
vancing between Luxemburg and Rastatt, directly proceed 
to that country the possession of which it strives to gain. 
Our Rhine fortresses, which naturally should be placed in 
a state of preparedness, are consequently not in immediate 


Preparations for War 

danger, and we would be justified in concentrating the en- 
tire fighting force, which Germany can assemble against 
France, between the Main and the Neckar. Insofar as there 
is no time for concentrating that army in the Palatinate, 
the attack may be awaited behind the Rhine, for the mere 
possession by the French of the left bank of the Rhine does 
not secure them possession of the land. They will not be 
able to overcome the necessity of crossing the stream in the 
face of the defender, and have to weaken their army by the 
investment of Luxemburg and Saarlouis, by observation 
against Coblenz, Mayence, Germersheim, Landau and Ras- 

Therefore, it can be said in general, that the war 
against Austria, considering its present weakness, and 
against France will have to be conducted in a defensive man- 
ner, but should not be avoided, considering the large object 
to be gained thereby. Even if the outcome should not be 
entirely successful, Germany would for all time to come be 
assembled around Prussia, while the voluntary cession of 
even the smallest part of German territory would make the 
future leadership of Prussia impossible. 

If we are successful in concluding peace with Austria 
within the next few days, France would surely object to 
all conditions of the treaty ; it could choose no more favora- 
ble time for war than the present. In that case it would be 
material to quickly consolidate North Germany in order 
to oppose in sufficient force dangers coming from the west 
and the east. 

-119 — 

Moltke's Correspondence 

The following work — without date — presupposes the possibility of 
utilizing the territory of Luxemburg and — differing from former mem- 
orials, which in the main were based on a defensive attitude of Prus- 
sia — treats of an advance of the North German fighting forces on 


A. Advance Against the Line Metz — Diedenhofen 
Prior concentration of: 

The 1st Army at Luxemburg, Sierck; 

The 2d Army at Rehlingen, Saarlouis; 

The 4th Army at Sulzbach, Saarbriicken, Volklingen, utiliz- 
ing the Nahe and the Bexbach railroads; 

The 3d Army to secure against Strassburg or act as a left 
flank army following via Saargemiind — Morchingen. 


f Luxemburg 



L Sierck 



[ Saarlouis 




1st Day 

f Busendorf, 
I Felsburg, 

I Tromborn, 
|_ Hargarten, 

[ Ham below 
I Varsberg, 

i Ludweiler, 
I St. Avoid, 
L Merlenbach, 

2d Day 

f Kattenhofen, 




[ Konigsmachern 


[ Eblingen, 

f Bolchen, 

■{ Hallingen, 
I Fullingen, 
[ Buschborn, 

3d Day 

f in front of 
I Thionville 



r Betsdorf, 
I Homburg, 

I Vigy, 

[ Brittendorf, 

r St. Barbe, 

-i Bolchen, 
I Flanville, 
L Courcelles. 

4th Day. Eight corps (250,000 men) one to two miles 
from the Mosel. One division in front of Diedenhofen, one 
corps against Metz. 

First Army south of Bussy across the Mosel, to sup- 
port the attack in the front. 

Eight corps, on a front of 12 [English] miles, two 
echelons deep. 

Start : First line early in the morning, second line in 
the afternoon. 


Preparations for War 


















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Moltke's Correspondence 

The political situation after 1866, and the task of the fortress of 
Luxemburg in the year 1867, had brought about a change in the mili- 
tary relations of Northern Germany towards France. Details of this 
are contained in the following two letters. 

NO. 8 

To THE Minister of War, General of Infantry v. Roon 

Berlm, 15 May, 1867. ' 

If we abandon our military position in Luxemburg the 
question arises, should some other point near the French 
frontier be fortified to protect the Rhine Province. 

The most natural procedure would be to enlarge Saar- 
louis, which lies at about the center of the line only thirty- 
two [English] miles long, from Luxemburg to the Ba- 
varian Palatinate. A large fortified place with a strong 
garrison would of course have a general influence on this 
entire stretch of frontier. Saarlouis cannot be trans- 
formed, except by material enlargement, into a fortress 
which will be able to withstand a formal attack consid- 
ering present-day fire effect. 

Not counting the fact that the terrain, especially on 
the right bank of the Saar, is unfavorable to a more extend- 
ed fortification, we have but lately learned the difiicul- 
ties any fortress in the immediate vicinity of the frontier 
causes us. Such a fortress must be fully prepared and gar- 
risoned in time of peace. The first may be gone pecuniarily, 
but not the latter, for, as a matter of policy, the Landwehr 
is designated to garrison the fortresses, and it cannot be 
assembled in time of peace. 

Consequently there would only remain to throw troops 
of the field army into a fortress and that is field troops of 
our peace organization — considering that we are opposed by 
an enemy who is fully prepared and stationed so close to 
us. The enlarged Saarlouis would require the entire infan- 
try of the 16th Division to be secure against a sudden attack. 

In any case, under present strained conditions, the en- 
largement of the place could hardly be finished at the time 


Preparations for War 

when required. Although one element of the state of 
"strained conditions," i.e. Luxemburg, is now eliminated, 
the main disturbing factor remains, the demand of France 
for supremacy in Europe (which of course is not justified 
at all) ; that means, forcing Prussia to relinquish the posi- 
tion which it has gained in Germany. In spite of all its 
preparatory arming, France, still without an ally, would 
hardly be in the situation to conduct war against Germany. 
It is probable that France will wait for its new armament 
which may be completed by next year. 

Even if by that time the reorganization of the French 
army should be completed and if consequently 300 battal- 
ions can take the field in future 1000 men strong instead of 
700 men strong, the North German army would be numeri- 
cally superior. After organizing a field army, a third of 
which in any case would be composed of raw levies, France 
would have exhausted its reserves, and replenishment and 
new formations could be effected only by recruitment or by 
volunteers, while our Prussian Landwehr forms a nucleus 
from which even the army of operations can be reinforced. 
In the French artillery the number of guns will have been 
increased to 1014, but not the number of trained artillery- 
men, while Prussia can this year put 1240 guns into the 

Consequently, next year the means for a successful 
war against France will be available in North Germany 
without counting on South Germany, and the main point 
will only be to concentrate these means at the proper time 
and correct place. 

Therefore I see more security for us in hastening the 
extension of our railroads than there would be in construc- 
tion of any fortifications. 

With existing railroad connections we can transport to 
the Rhine by the 30th day after orders are issued for mobili- 
zation : 

3 army corps by marching, 

4 army corps by rail, a total of 

7 army corps. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

The remaining six army corps can be transported only 
after that day, and the march into position of the army can- 
not be effected in less than six weeks. 

But it is doubtful if the 200,000 men, first assembled, 
will be sufficient to carry the offensive into France which 
would better than anything else protect our Rhine Province. 

In order to augment the North German railroad net, 
we do not need the construction of railroads for strategical 
purposes, but only the completion of such lines as are al- 
ready projected by the requirements of commerce and com- 

In order to open new trunk lines for military transpor- 
tation to the Rhine, the following lines will have to be com- 
pleted : 

1. The Borssum — Halberstadt line. 

2. The continuation of the Halle — Nordhausen railroad from 
Heiligenstadt, be that directly via Witzenhausen, via Miinden, or 
even Gottingen. 

3. The Fulda — Hanau railroad. 

Should, in case of the last named road, the terrain dif- 
ficulties be so great that its construction, by using all pos- 
sible means, could not be completed within a year — which is 
of course a matter to be decided by professional men — 

4. A second track M^ould have to be laid on the railroad from 
Bebra to Guntershausen. 

In the first three cases the question is of a construction 
of about 80 [English] miles, which will give us 5 indepen- 
dent lines, an advantage w^orth millions to us in case of war, 
for then we would be able to complete the concentration of 
the army within four weeks. 

If hastening the work means additional cost, the sums 
so expended ought to be considered as mere loans. 

If the state should be required to advance a few mil- 
lions for hastening the completion of the projected lines, 
it would be entirely justified by the political situation. 

It is hardly necessary to mention that in addition to 
the above named, practical but short lines, the connection 
between Trier and Cologne and the construction of a sec- 


Preparations for War 

ond track on the railroad on the left bank of the Rhine will 
always remain desirable from a military standpoint. Still, 
I consider communication from the center to the west of the 
Monarchy under existing political conditions the most im- 
portant, and respectfully leave it to the excellent judgment 
of Your Excellency, if this matter cannot be facilitated by 
communicating with the Minister of Finance and Com- 

NO. 9 

To THE Minister of War, General of Infantry v. Roon 

Berlin, 6 July, 1867. 

I respectfully return to Your Excellency the inclos- 
ures to the correspondence of the 1st of this month,* 

Concerning the enlargement of Saarlouis, I have al- 
ready, under date of 15 May, this year, expressed my opin- 
ions of the necessity of keeping this place, which is on the 
immediate frontier, in a continuous state of readiness, and 
that all of the battalions of the 16th Division, which would 
have to be thrown into the fortress at the first sign of dan- 
ger, would be sufficient as a garrison. 

If we were compelled to conduct the war defensively 
on the Rhine, the operation of relieving this division, be- 
sieged by the enemy in Saarlouis, would be a very difficult 

If we are able, as it is hoped, to offensively invade 
France, we need no fortress in order to debouch across the 

Streams Hke the Rhine and the Vistula of course can 
be crossed in the face of the enemy only on fortified bridges. 

* This correspondence contained information that the General 
Department of the War Ministry had sketched out a tentative plan 
for the enlargement of the fortress of Saarlouis. The inclosures 
mentioned above contained extracts from that plan with explanatory 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Still the Saar and the opposite bank of it can be passed eas- 
ier at any other point than via the rocky slope at Saarlouis 
or the single road at Ober-Felsberg. 

I also do not think very much of the place as a depot 
for an offensive advance. A good railroad net in our rear, 
which of course has first to be prepared here on the Rhine, 
and which must be prepared, secures the transportation of 
all necessities, even if the depots are in the Rhine fortresses. 
I again call attention to the fact that, according to my view, 
all means which are available for the defense of the country 
should be utilized first and foremost for construction of 
railroads which are strategically the most important. 

According to the projected work, Saarlouis of to-day 
would form a part of the fortified camp to be provisionally 
constructed by next year, for the establishment of which 
there is no need. 

Fortified camps have a great disadvantage in so far 
as there is no actual guaranty that an army will be in them, 
that they are weak in the absence of the army, especially 
if, as is the case here, there is no existing central fortifica- 

They also cannot assure actual rest to troops within 
their limits. The troops would nightly be alarmed by some 
battery or other going into position in a fold in the terrain 
and firing at long range. Only if the camp is situated on 
a large river or delta, like the Alsen Sound, an army detach- 
ment can, by crossing to the other bank, find the protection 
and rest necessary for its reorganization or for a more ex- 
tended stay. 

So far, in the annals of war, the history of fortified 
camps is in most cases connected with their capitulation, 
and I would recommend the construction of such a camp 
least of all at Saarlouis, where, for instance, the range of 
the forts on the Felix Hill reaches to beyond French terri- 

Concerning the projected smaller forts which are in- 
tended to prevent the enemy from using our railroads, I 
believe that these forts will certainly accomplish no more 


Preparations for War 

in that connection than will arrangements made in ad- 
vance than blowing them up at suitable points. The de- 
struction of a viaduct like that at Saarbriicken or Gorlitz 
interrupts the continuity of a line for the entire course of 
a campaign and I doubt if a fort of smaller dimensions will 
hold out for that length of time. 

It is of course true that these forts would be useful, 
could they prevent the enemy from destroying valuable 

Should the French utilize, for instance, their fighting 
forces which are first ready to invade the country on the 
left bank of the Rhine, then they would undoubtedly destroy 
the crossing at Saarlouis if forced to fall back, which would 
be very much against our interests. Still, then also the 
tunnels of the Nahe railroad would have to be protected in 
similar manner, for should they be destroyed, we could not 
use that road for a long time to come. However, it is de- 
pendent on the locality in each case whether or not it will 
be possible to take any structure under fire in such manner 
as to prevent the enemy from destroying it. 

Consequently, I do not believe that there will be any 
material advantage in the projected forts. 

The continuous preparations for war by France since the spring 
of 1867 — even after the Luxemburg question was settled— caused the 
Minister-President Count v. Bismarck to call on the Chief of Staff of 
the army in the beginning of September, for a written opinion: 

NO. 10 

To the Minister-President, Count v. Bismarck-Schoen- 
hausen, Berlin : 

Creisau at Schweidnitz, 

6 September, 1867. 

In reply to Your Excellency's letter of the 2d instant, 
I have the honor to submit the following: 


Moltke's Correspondence 

According to my opinion France is arming and prepar- 
ing for war under the auspices of its War Ministry since last 
spring, partly — 

1. in order to rectify prior neglects in its military organi- 

2. in order to bring the French defensive forces to a higher 
plane corresponding to new conditions, especially in order to 
facilitate quicker mobilization, and finally, partly 

3. under the supposition that the apparently vacillating poli- 
cies of the Emperor may bring about a sudden outbreak of war. 

In each one of the many measures taken by the French 
for readiness for war, we can trace one of these three mo- 
tives as either a basis or an auxiliary reason for them. 

As the development of the French forces, mentioned 
under (2), cannot yet have been reached, considering the 
material shortcomings and long standing neglects, meas- 
ures for preparedness for war will continue probably even if 
French politics should be of an entirely peaceful aspect. 

What weight we will have to give different reports 
received concerning this matter, will depend mainly on 
whether they can be explained as being based on the one 
or the other motive, or if they are to be brought into con- 
nection with an imminent political question. 

In general, there is no doubt whatever but what France 
is hostile towards us and will remain so for the present; 
all measures taken by it consequently will have the char- 
acter of ill will and preparation for war. Whether or 
not there is any reason in the present political situation 
to await an actual development of the crisis, is beyond my 
judgment; Your Excellency is in a better situation to know 
all about that. 

The separate exterior symptons, which have apppeared 
lately, and which may be of military importance, are: 

(a) The purchase of horses in Hungary, commenced since the 
settlement of the Luxemburg question, and still continuing, the horses 
being sent via Nabresina (northwest of Trieste on the railroad to 
Vienna) and the Mont Cenis route to France. This measure seems to 
indicate an intention to improve, not the quantity but the quality of 
the French military horses. In the spring, unsuitable horses pur- 
chased in a hurry were sold^l31 head in the 9th Dragoons alone — 
and 10,000 head loaned out to farmers. According to a report in our 
hands, dated the end of July, of the Horse Artillery Regiment of the 
Guards, that regiment was from ten to thirty horses per batery be- 
low its peace strength. 


Preparations for War 

(b) The reported purchase of grain and beef cattle in Italy; the 
purchase in England of woolen blankets and other articles neces- 
sary for a winter's campaign ; the reported — not yet confirmed — 
placing of orders in Vienna for maps of the German theater of war, 
especially of the rivers. 

(c) The reported intention of moving the regiments from the 
camp at Chalons to the northeastern districts of Dunkirchen and as 
far as Strassburg — the unusual keeping up of the divisions and bri- 
gades of these troops — and the reported new formation of a division 
in Paris. The latter two reports are denied by official organs (news- 
papers) and it is said lately that the intended change of station of 
troops would not be made, because it has made the French people 
too uneasy. Should it actually be made, there would be forty-eight 
battalions of field troops more in the terrain situated east and north 
of the line Calais — Paris — Basel than were there last year. The con- 
sequent decrease in the number of troops in the remaining provinces 
of France would, however, amount to but fifteen battalions, which may 
be explained by the return of the troops from Mexico and Rome. 

(d) Under certain conditions also the proposed measures to be 
taken in the French navy are a strange symptom. Whether and to 
what extent the French navy is to play a role in a war against 
Prussia, is hard to determine in advance. It is a fact that the French 
navy is superior to ours, even if no additional steps are taken to in- 
crease it; still a report of such a contemplated increase might easily 
excite the mistrust of other maritime powers, though they would 
keep aloof in the conflict. Consequently it is a question whether the 
naval preparations on the part of France are connected more with 
an Oriental than with a German question. 

(e) The completion of new formations in the infantry, artillery 
and train troops possibly may be regarded less in a military sense 
than judged as motives mentioned in (1) and (2) above. 

(f) Under the same category would be classed the fortification 
work started in the spring and lately resumed. Those at Belfort I 
specially hold as entirely irrelevant to us, and they probably would 
play no role at all in a war between France and Germany. 

I will also remark as follows : 

We cannot deny that French army matters have, since 
the spring, taken a great step ahead in most directions. 

The effective strength of trained men has been in- 
creased by 70,000 men through the addition of two years' 
conscripts, the number of horses available now may suffice 
to mobilize the army in about the same time as can the Prus- 
sian army, — the field artillery has been increased by 34 
batteries. But two very important results have not yet 
been attained : on the other hand, according to numerous 
reports confirming each other, the number of completed 
chassepot rifles is less than 50,000 (only the larger part of 
the infantry of the Guards and the 16 infantry regiments 
up to this time in the camp at Chalons can be supplied with 


Moltke's Correspondence 

them so far), and in the second place the number of trained, 
but not the number of available men, has been increased, 
because no new recruitment has so far been started. 

The increased recruitment expected heretofore (in 
June) of about 160,000 men has not yet been effected, and 
by the Decree of the 7th of August only the usual contingent 
of about 100,000 me« has been called to the colors at the 
regular September recruitment and that under keeping to 
the old custom of allowing conscripts to purchase their 
freedom from service, etc. 

Consequently, according to our conception, France will 
at the present time not be able to oppose against Prussia a 
stronger army than the above mentioned field army of at 
most 300,000 men. 

As it now appears that Emperor Napoleon did not suc- 
ceed in forming in Salzburg the desired Austria — South 
German alliance, the above military considerations do not 
lead to the belief that France can undertake a campaign 
this fall, which at the present time it is not strong enough 
to carry on without an ally. 

Another deciding factor might be — what measures date 
from the time before the convention at Salzburg, and what 
after that convention, and therefore started in consequence 
of that convention. The Moniteur de VArmee reports that 
the Decree of August 24 dismissed the present oldest active 
class (1862) to the reserve, and in addition that by the De- 
cree of August 31, after the usual autumn maneuvers the 
semi-annual furloughing of officers, non-commissioned offi- 
cers and soldiers will be more numerous than heretofore. 
Although these measures are no absolute indication of peace, 
but in the main have for their object making room for the 
training of younger men, they do not absolutely indicate 
hostile intentions. Should in the meantime Your Excellency 
have reasons to suspect contrivances of France in the matter 
of new political dissensions in the near future, the above 
points contained in from (a) to (d) would be entitled to 
careful consideration. 


Preparations for War 
NO. 11 

To THE Minister-President, Count v. Bismarck- 


Creisau, 9 September, 1867. 

In continuation of my letter of the 6th instant (No. 10) 
I have the honor to report that from the publications of 
the Moniteur de Varmee it has been ascertained : 

1. The increase of troops in the northeastern garri- 
sons in France does not, as stated in that letter as possible, 
amount to forty-five, but to twenty-eight battalions. The 
earlier assumption that the troops of the camp at Chalons 
would remain in the northeast has been confirmed, it is true, 
but in their place troops have been transferred from the 
northeast to the south and west. 

2. The same number of the Moniteur declares expressly 
that the troops up to now at Chalons would become part of 
the territorial command in their garrisons. In the same 
sense this number of the Moniteur brings a "Denial of the 
Constitution" against keeping these troops as a part of the 
active divisions. 

3. The rumor of the reinforcement of the Army of 
Paris by a division reduces itself, according to the same 
number of the Moniteur, to the fact that in place of the 
1st Division, to be disorganized (the regiments of that divi- 
sion to go to the west and south), a new division under the 
same numerical designation is to be formed under the com- 
mand of General Douay. 

4. The late reports of contemplated movements of the 
navy, especially at Toulon, are now explained to be con- 
nected with an intended inspection on a large scale. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

To serve as a basis in a discussion with the Assistant Chief of 
the General Staff concerning the positions and the first operations 
of the army in a campaign against France, General v. Moltke made 
the following notes: 

NO. 12 

Berlin, 16 November, 1867. 

In the event of difficulties with France next spring, it 
is probable that Austria's and Denmark's attitude will be 
doubtful, to say the least, and that therefore it will be neces- 
sary to leave parts of our fighting forces opposed to them. 

As in such a case the Xllth Army Corps could hardly 
be utilized in Saxony or Silesia, the Vlth Army Corps would 
have to concentrate at Neisse, the 1st Army Corps trans- 
ported via Bamberg and Frankfurt to Hansdorf to march 
from there to Gorlitz, and a strong division of the IXth 
Army Corps would have to proceed by rail via Hamburg, 
Berlin and Kottbus also to Gorlitz, making a total of 80,000 
men, which, reinforced by Landwehr, would have to unite 
along the mountains according to the nature of the opera- 
tions taken later on by Austria ; but they would have to oc- 
cupy Dresden in any case. The rest of the IXth Army 
Corps concentrates in the fortified camp at Diippel. 

In this movement all the lines leading west will remain 
untouched, and we can send there ten army corps, a total 
of more than 300,000. 

The advance guard marching on France will be formed 
by the 5th Division, which can be at Saarbriicken on the 
17th day, and the 16th Division, which concentrates about 
the same time the other side of Trier. 

Both divisions will have to cover the march of the army 
in the Rhine Palatinate and also the march of the Vllth 
Army Corps, as well as to secure the railroad as far as 

By the twenty-fifth day the 6th Division and the IVth 
Army Corps will arrive at Neunkirchen, the former via 
Kreuznach, the latter via Kaiserslautern ; the Vllth Army 
Corps will arrive at Wittlich, and parts of these three or- 
ganizations may arrive at those places even before then, 


Preparations for War 

which will enable the advance guards, supported by them and 
by the terrain, to hold their position in front and will pre- 
vent the necessity of their having to retreat via Neunkirchen 
and Wittlich. 

In case these movements could not be made, then of 
course transportation on the Nahe and the Bexbach rail- 
roads would have to be commenced earlier. 

At the stated time the 15th Division is assembled at 
Morbach, the lid and the Xlth Corps are echeloned between 
Alzey and Mayence, and the Vth and the Xllth Corps at 
Mannheim (the latter probably a little later?). 

On the whole, on the twenty-fifth day, there will be at 
our disposal eight army corps, about 250,000 men, between 
the Saar and the Rhine, which can be concentrated in the 
center in three marches, to the front or to one of the flanks 
in seven marches. 

At our disposal then in home garrisons are the Guard 
Corps and the Xth Army Corps, some 65,000 men, which 
can be transported to Dresden or via Bingen and Mayence 
after the twenty-fifth day, to allow us to utilize 150,000 men 
against Austria and 250,000 men against France. 

If by that time it were ascertained that no large force 
would be required against Austria, then the army against 
France could be reinforced by the thirty-second day to over 
300,000 men, without leaving Silesia and Saxony unguarded. 

Fighting forces against France: 

1st Army: Vllth and Vlllth Army Corps, 

2d Army: Illd, IVth and finally Guard Corps, 

3d Army: lid, Xlth, and finally Xth Army Corps, 

4th Army: Vth and Xllth Army Corps. 


If we should be unable to complete our preparations 
ahead of the French, then we must expect the enemy's offen- 
sive operations to begin by the twenty-fifth day. 

Smaller detachments of the enemy, which may advance 
on the left bank of the Mosel, will offensively advance 
against the 16th, 13th, and 14th Divisions or against parts 
of these. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Should 50,000 French or more march against Coblenz 
— Cologne, which is not probable, then the above mentioned 
divisions will unite with the 15th behind the Mosel to guard 
the crossings. An offensive executed by the center of the 
army via Saarbriicken and Saarlouis will compel the enemy 
to immediately evacuate the country on the left bank of the 

Should the French main force advance from Metz — 
Nancy against Mayence — Mannheim, we will learn that 
fact through the resistance which the Illd Army Corps will 
have to make at Saarbriicken and Neunkirchen. 

Then it will be a question whether or not we will be 
able to make a front halfway on our advance, at Homburg, 
about the thirtieth or the thirty-second day, with the Hid, 
IVth and the Xlth and lid Corps (about 125,000 men), the 
latter continuing the march. 

A position prepared in advance behind the upper Blies 
and at so important a railroad appears to be favored by the 

It will undoubtedly be the enemy's endeavor to combine 
his attack at that point from the west with one from the 
south, the latter executed probably by the fighting forces 
assembled at Strassburg. To meet that, it is necessary to 
leave the Vth and the Xllth Corps in march on Landau, in 
order to hold, by an offensive from there, the Strassburg 
Corps or to draw near to the main army via Piermasens, 
should that army march on Bitsch. 

Should our left wing be threatened by such a move it 
would at the most result in a retreat on Coblenz, which is 
not an unfavorable direction at all. On the other hand, and 
being strategically of more disadvantage, the left wing of 
the French main force is endangered by the Vllth and Vlllth 
Army Corps, should we succeed to bring these up by the day 
of the decision. 

Leaving nothing but observation detachments on the 
Mosel, these two corps should be started in the general di- 
rection of Birkenfeld, St. Wendel or Tholey. But as their 
actual arrival at a certain point cannot be counted on as to 
day and hour, the battlefield cannot be designated definitely 


Preparations for War 

in advance. Still an apt and competent leader will be 
able to regulate the march of the two corps with that of 
the main army — by having the former make longer, the 
latter shorter marches — so as to insure the union of both 
on the day of the decision, should that be farther to the rear 
of the Lauter or Alsenz, where then in addition to the lid 
and Xlth Corps, possibly also the Guard Corps and the Xth 
Army Corps might be disposable on the thirty-fourth or the 
thirty-sixth day. 

It remains to be decided later, whether we will make a 
stand on the twenty-fifth day with the Hid and IVth Corps, 
65,000 men, at Neunkirchen or Homburg, or accept battle 
about the thirtieth day with the Hid, IVth, Vllth, Vlllth, 
lid and Xlth Corps, 200,000 men, opposite Kaiserslautern, 
or wait until the thirty-fourth day for the Guard Corps and 
the Xth Corps, presupposing of course that the Strassburg 
Army is held in check by the Vth and the Xllth Corps. 


If we are able to bring our army into position oppo- 
site the French army in time so that the latter has not been 
able to drive back the Illd and IVth Army Corps behind the 
line Neunkirchen — Zweibriicken by the thirty-third day, 
then by that day the Xlth and lid Army Corps, coming from 
Alzey, will have approached to behind that line, and the 
Guard Corps or the Xth Corps, continuing their travel on 
the Nahe and Bexbach railroad, have reached there, a total 
of 150,000 men. 

The Vllth and Vlllth Corps will have marched to the 
vicinity of St. Wendel and Tholey. 

The advance guards will be advanced to the Saar. 

The Vth and Xllth Corps are concentrated at Landau. 
Their attitude depends on that of the hostile fighting forces 
assembled at Strassburg. They have to cover towards the 
south the advance of the main army westward, to protect 
the railroad connections and to finally draw near the main 

The offensive of the main army will be directed on its 
object, the French offensive, which at that time we may as- 


Moltke's Correspondence 

sume to be close in our front. Even should that not be the 
case, we are certain to meet it if we advance in the direction 
Nancy — Pont-a-Mousson, which threatens France the most, 
and which line can be reached within seven marches. 

In that advance the strictest concentration is necessary. 

The Second Army is assigned to the Saarbriicken — St. 
Avoid — Han on the Nied roads; the Third Army the Saar- 
gemiind — Piittlingen — Baronweiler road. 

On the whole only the artillery will march on these 
roads, the cavalry and at least a part of the infantry will 
use parallel roads, consequently short marches and bivouacs. 

The marching depth of the corps must be regulated so 
that it will not be more than eight [English] miles. 

The advance guards, accompanied by as much cavalry 
as the terrain demands, will be half a march in front. 

The leading corps of each army starts at daybreak, 
the second corps after dinner, the third corps follows at 
the proper time the next morning. 

The opponent cannot advance in close concentration. 
Considering the nature of French troop leading it is not 
probable, though possible, that the French army will await 
us in a prepared position and thus have all its fighting 
forces in hand. 

If the advance guards encounter resistance which they 
cannot overcome, main bodies in rear support the advance 
guard. Two corps of each army are concentrated each even- 
ing, the third, if necessary, can be brought up by a night 
march, or will arrive behind the front the next morning as 
a reserve. 

The First Army marches via Kreuzwald to Fullingen, 
one division as right flank guard via Bolchen to Contchen on 
the Nied towards Metz. 

On the first day after crossing the frontier the leading 
elements of the three armies will be twelve [English] miles 
apart, on the third day but eight [English] miles, on the 
line Fullingen — Baronweiler. The depth of the column, 
with flank bivouacs and short marches, would be con- 
fined to eight [English] miles (measures for subsistence to 
be taken in accordance therewith) . Thus we could deploy 


Preparations for War 

any day 250,000 men for battle, not only to the front, but 
also towards the flank, should the French army advance to 
the attack from either the Nied or the Seille. 

The latter operation would have the Fourth Army in 
the flank and would, in case of a lost battle, merely force us 
to retire on the Rhine line. 

A concentration behind the Seille has the advantage 
for the French main army of being in the very start in con- 
nection with the Strassburg army. But a rapid advance 
on our part via Saarbriicken and Finstingen will lead us to 
the inner line of operations between the two armies. Should 
these armies already be united at Saarburg, then, bringing 
up our Fourth Army, and having a good base, the battle 
would lead in the direction which would, in case of victory 
on our part, drive the French army away from Paris. 

More dangerous would be the first operation, which, 
in case of reverse, would cut all our communications. It is 
true that then also conditions would be precarious for the 
enemy, but not so much as on our side, considering the 
proximity of two fortresses and the Mosel sector. 

Still, this presupposes that the French, in accordance 
with a strictly defensive plan of war, have concentrated 
their main force between Diedenhofen and Metz, which 
would mean all absence of connection with the part of the 
forces which are compelled to leave the railroad in the Rhine 
valley at Strassburg to avoid great loss of time. Thereby 
these forces would run into danger, as we can easily rein- 
force our Fourth Army from the concentration at Homburg. 

If after the end of from four to five weeks, we should 
still be without information as to the position of the French 
main force, a reconnaissance in force sent out by the First 
Army via Kedingen towards Reichersberg and one by the 
Third Army towards the Seille would be the means to de- 
cide if we would have to seek the opponent there. In that 
case of course our advance would have to be made towards 
the Nied or up the Saar. 

Finally, we must consider the possibility that the 
French will defensively hold the weaker part of the course 
of the Mosel between Luneville and Metz. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

In that case one division of the First Army would hold 
the Nied crossings east of Metz, the Army itself take a po- 
sition at Peltre against Metz, and one corps of the Third 
Army would have to proceed to Chateau-Salins, to protect 
the left flank. 

The remainder of the army, more than 200,000 men, 
would proceed towards Cheminot and Nomeny, would drive 
off the outpost position of the enemy on the Seille and direct 
the attack towards Pont-a-Mousson. 

The probability will be that we will meet the French 
army between the Blies and the Seille, and our measures 
should principally be based on that supposition. 

In any case the Fourth Army should be so much rein-' 
forced that the westward advance will not be disturbed from 
the south. This can easily be done, as the larger the Strass- 
burg Army is, the smaller will be the French main army. 

Should the operation be conducted from Strassburg on 
the right bank of the Rhine, that would not change anything 
herein ; the separation of the French forces would be more 
complete, the danger of our offensive advance less. The 
Fourth Army would cross the Rhine at Germersheim. 

The measures to be taken in case of an offensive advance of the 
French before completion of their mobilization are discussed by Gen- 
eral V. Moltke in the following : 

NO. 13 

Berlin, 21 March, 1868. 

It cannot be seen in advance if the French will wait for 
the regular mobilization of their fighting forces, or if they 
will advance to the attack with what they now have at their 

We, on our part, can hold to but one method of placing 
our army in readiness, which must be in accordance with 
both eventualities. 

Our plans for this were worked out last November, and 
we now have only to examine the latest tables of mobiliza- 


Preparations for War 

tion, to see the addition (Hansu — Hersfeld) to the railroad 
net might hasten a concentration on the Rhine. 

Then we should examine, in what relation this method, 
to be designated as the permanent one, stands to a strate- 
gical attack made by France. 

Taking the case of a strategical attack, 70,000 French 
could reach the Rhine line on the 20th day, their leading 
elements probably a few days earlier; that is, at a time when 
the Rhine fortresses are not completely supplied, before the 
Landwehr garrisons have arrived and when consequently 
active fighting troops of the line would be required there. 

It cannot be assumed that the French will go as far as 
the Wesel, even if they should ignore Luxemburg's neutral- 
ity. The disadvantages would all be on their side. 

There are six battalions of the 14th Division in Cologne. 
The three in Aix-la-Chappele and Jiilich could wait until 
completion of their mobilization ; their communication, at 
least via Diisseldorf , would not be endangered ; the three in 
Coblenz should for the present be left there. 

We cannot reckon with certainty on the four battal- 
ions of the 16th Division in Saarlouis; they can neither at 
once be drawn off nor relieved by Landwehr. 

At the start we would have to renounce holding the 
terrain on the left of the Rhine under the stated assumptions. 
Consequently we could bring back at once their supplies by 
steamer and rail. I do not believe that this procedure would 
cause a less unfavorable impression than if they were to 
retreat fighting. 

Five battalions and five squadrons in Trier form an 
advanced detachment, which, especially if reinforced by half 
a battery from Coblenz by steamer — may calmly await the 
enemy's advance. Their reinforcements will arrive on the 
8th day. The road to Coblenz offers a series of positions, 
in which a fight can be broken off without danger, and the 
river can easily be crossed at Bernkastel. 

More difficult is the retreat for the battalion in Saar- 
briicken, but that will be protected by five squadrons. It is 
desirable that this battalion should withdraw along the 
Nahe railroad, then via Simmern, 


Moltke's Correspondence 

I am of the opinion that we should not blow up the 
works on the railroad, as we have good chances to again be 
on the Saar in fourteen days. That the enemy may destroy 
the works is possible and probable, but not certain, and then 
it would make no difference had we done it or the enemy. 

Conditions will have to decide whether we will destroy 
an embankment (but not a viaduct or tunnel) which delays 
the enemy some days, draws his attention, but can be re- 
constructed within a few days. 

By the 20th day there will have arrived at Mayence the 
largest part of the Xlth, IVth and Vth Corps. It is possi- 
ble that the transportation of the Hid Corps from Cologne 
cannot be continued up the Rhine. 

But in any case there probably will be so many fighting 
forces on the right bank of the Rhine from Cologne to May- 
ence by the 20th day, that 70,000 French cannot attempt to 
cross the stream. 

Then we would have to take the offensive as early as 
possible from Cologne, Coblenz, Mayence and finally also 
from Mannheim. The French railroad will undoubtedly 
be taken up with the transport of peace cadres up to the 
10th day. Thereafter the reinforcing detachments, more 
than 100,000 men, will have to be brought up after comple- 
tion of clothing, equipment and organization, as well as the 
mobile National Guard for the frontier fortresses. 

Reaction would then set in. 

Shortly thereafter General v. Moltke sketched out his views as 
to the marching into position of the German fighting forces and the 
probable first movements, in the foUovi^ing memorial:* 

NO. 14 

Berlin, in April 1868. 
■ If war should happen this year, we may count with 
certainty on the fact that it will be only with France alone. 

*0n the cover of this there is a note in the handwriting of the 
general as follows: — "final, and govei-ned by present conditions, 
sketch of a plan of onerations. 20-5 v. M." 


Preparations for War 

Incomplete equipments, armament, etc., the disinclination 
of Hungary, and the attitude of Russia, preclude Austria's 
participation. Consequently we will be able to utilize nearly 
all of our forces against the one enemy. 

Still, it is advisable to leave the Vlth Corps at home at 
the start, or at least to move it last to relieve the Xllth 
Corps, which cannot be left in its present station. Finally, 
it is necessary to leave a strong force to protect the prov- 
inces and the coast, especially the North Sea coast, as 
France will hardly leave an arm like its fleet unused. 

In less than three years we can build no fortification 
for maritime protection, an active defense will have to do 
its best. 

Accordingly the Vlth and IXth Corps cannot be counted 
on, they will form only the last echelon. 

This leaves eleven army corps, 360,000 men, and these 
will form a force which is equal to the French force, even if 
the latter does not direct itself against separate attacking 

We will gain a material superiority as soon as the 
South Germans join us, even if they do so with only from 
40,000 to 60,000 men. 

Equality or superiority will be attained only if we are 
able too concentrate our forces opposite the French at the 
proper time. 

This concentration will take place within two time 
limits, which are determined by the capacities of the avail- 
able railroads. 

First period, from the first mobilization day to the 
227id day: — 

Army Men 

1st 60,000 Vllth Army Corps by marching ] Coblenze and 

Vlllth Army Corps by marching and j beyond on the 
using auxiliary line via Call J Mosel 

2d 60,000 1 Mayence and 

Hid Army Corps, R. R. Hanover I beyond in the 

IVth Army Corps, R.R. Halle-Marburg j p^J^a^tlnTte 


3d 70,000 Hd Army Corps, R.R. Halle-Fulda ] 

Xth Army Corps, R.R. Paderborn- \ Mayence 
Wetzlar j 


Moltke's Correspondence 

4th 90,000 Hessian Division in Darmstadt 

One Bavarian Brigade in Landau 

Vth Army Corps, R.R. Leipzig- ] 

Wiirzburg \ Mannheim 

Xlth Army Corps, (21st Division 
marching) J 

Wiirtemberg Division, rail and [ 9t tt t 

marching I ^^^^•'K^" 

Baden Division, rail and marching [ Rastatt 

Total 280,000 men. 

The First Army concentrates towards Wittlich. It will 
try to see if it can support its advance guard at Trier. 
Should a superior French army advance through Luxem- 
burg, it will give way, probably at Bernkastel, to the right 
bank of the Mosel, keeping possession of the crossings. If 
it has no enemy in its front, it will draw near the Second 
Army with which it will keep in connection and march 
abreast of. In a battle in the Palatinate it would be of de- 
cisive importance for the First Army to appear at the right 
time on the enemy's left flank. 

The detachment of the 16th Division at Saarbriicken 
will not be ordered back, but will be immediately reinforced 
from Mayence via the Nahe railroad by the 5th Division, 
to keep us informed what parts of the enemy advance on 
the Palatinate. 

If after that conditions permit, the Illd and IVth Army 
Corps will continue their journey without interruption on 
the Nahe and Bexbach railroad, and the Second Army will 
assemble on the line Homburg — Zweibriicken. 

The Third Army follows immediately by marching in 

Conditions obtaining at place and time will govern 
whether we will accept battle, even before the arrival of the 
second transport echelon between the Blies and the Rhine, 
with the 

Second and Third Army 130,000 men 

later supported by the First Army 60,000 men 

that is, with 190,000 men 


Preparations for War 

Should the French army have already invaded the 
Palatinate in force when our army corps reach the Rhine 
then of course the two railroads diverging there could not be 
used for transporting the entire Second Army. 

Both armies would then await the arrival of reinforce- 
ments in a strong defensive position in front of Mayence, 
for instance, with their right wing on the Donnersberg. 
Accordingly the First Army should be sent through the 

Concerning the destruction of the Nahe railroad the de- 
tachment at Saarbrucken will receive direct orders from 
general headquarters. 

The Fourth Army is designated to receive or support 
the South Germans. Southern Germany will best be pro- 
tected by an offensive with all forces far into France. 

If by the 22d day a French army has not yet crossed 
the upper Rhine, the Fourth Army concentrates on the line 
Neustadt — Landau (the contigents from Baden via Maxau, 
those from Wiirttemberg via Germersheim) and follows 
the forward movement of our main army as a left echelon. 

Even if, as is probable, a French army is concentrated 
at Strassburg, it will not dare, considering the deployment 
of our large forces in the Palatinate, to cross the line below 
Strassburg. (An incursion through the Breisgau with an 
auxiliary army would be of no effect on the campaign and 
would merely weaken the French fighting force.) The 
Strassburg Army can operate only against the left flank of 
our offensive advance. But we stand on the inner line of 
operation between the Strassburg Army and the enemy's 
main line, which latter, if it desires to make full use of the 
railroad net, can concentrate only on the other side of the 
Vosges, about on the line Diedenhofen — Nancy. Therefore 
we have the choice, if the advance of the Strassburg Army 
offers the opportunity of a short, quick, offensive advance 
on the left bank of the Rhine and upstream, to give to the 
Fourth Army a decided superiority by reinforcing it from 
the Third Army ; against the west we would confine ourselves 
in the meantime to the defensive. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

If on the other hand, the French have been enabled to 
cross the upper Rhine before we complete our concentration, 
the Vth and Xlth Corps would march up the Rhine on the 
right bank, would receive the Wiirttembergers and Baden- 
ers in Bruchsal and Rastatt, advance on the enemy's com- 
munications, and compel him to turn about. We should 
not be afraid of this partition of our fighting forces and we 
can carry out the offensive with our main force towards 
the west after the arrival of the second transport echelons, 
because the enemy has also divided his forces and abandoned 
all connections between them. 

The fact that the South German contingents do not 
directly join the Fourth Army but operate independently, 
based on Ulm, for the defense of the Black Forest, must not 
be lost sight of and in that case we would allow them to do 
so and, leaving but an observation detachment on the Neckar, 
open the offensive on France with all four armies. The 
capture of Southern Germany can have no effect on us, be- 
fore we have had a battle which will call back the French 
for the defense of their own territory. During the time 
the French march from Strassburg to Ulm we march from 
Mayence to Nancy. There we will endanger the communi- 
cations even of the French South Army, while we on our 
part will have our Rhineland in our immediate rear. 

Only the loss of the South German fortresses would 
be a material disadvantage. 

Second Period — to the 30th day. 

Immediately following the above mentioned corps there 
would have to be transported : 

The Guard Corps via Hanover — Cologne; 

The Xllth Corps via Corbetha— Fulda; 

(the 22d Division joins the Xlth Corps by marching). 

Should, after three weeks, conditions be such as to 
show that the 18th Division is a sufficient force in Schles- 
wig, and should a Landwehr garrison suffice for Dresden, 
then within this period the following could be brought to 
the Rhine : 

The 17th Division via Kreiensen — Wetzlar, 
The 1st Army Corps via Cassel. 


Preparations for War 

After three weeks the Bavarian corps also would have 
to be concentrated in the vicinity of Wiirzburg — Nordlingen. 

In case the French have invaded Southern Gemany, the 
Bavarian corps would co-operate with the Fourth Army, 
provided it could not immediately join that army via : — 

Stuttgart-Bruchsal ; ^ Heidelberg ; 

Heilbronn; Darmstadt. 

Aschanenburg; ^ 

The order of battle* would then be about as follows: — 

First Army, Vllth and Vlllth Corps 60,000 men; 

Second Army, Hid, IVth and Guard Corps 110,000 men; 

Third Army, lid, Xth. Xllth and 1st Corps 125,000 men; 

Fourth Army, Vth, Xlth, each one Baden, 1 Wiirttemburg 

Div., 2 Bavarian corps 140,000 men. 

A total of 430,000 men. 

The Third Army forms the reserve for the other three. 

A second army reserve would have to be formed of the 
17th Division and eventually the Vlth Corps, which would 
bring the fighting force to a numerical strength of 480,000 
men, and which reserve would have to secure the communi- 
cations to the rear of the greatly extended line of operations. 

Concerning the Bavarians specially, Nordlingen — Wiirz- 
burg is to be recommended as a point of concentration for 
them, "because the concentration will first have to be ef- 
fected in their own territory, and because the Bavarian 
government will willingly accede to these views," the Bavar- 
ian territory being thereby directly protected. 

In case of a French invasion there will of course be an 
inclination to throw the 1st Corps to Ulm, and that corps 
will then draw on itself the French fighting forces, and that 
in a direction very dangerous to us. But if the contingents 

*As shown by a marginal notation, General v. Moltke assumed 
as Army Commanders, Chiefs of General Staff and Quartermaster 
Generals of these armies as follows: — 
First Army — Grand Duke of Mecklenburg or General v. Herwarth; 

Schlotheim. Vieth. 
Second Army — Prince Frederic Charles; 

Stiilpnagel. Strantz. 
Third Army — v. Steinmetz; 

Wittlich. Stiehle. 
Fourth Army — Crown Prince; 

Blumenthal. Stosch. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

from Baden and Wiirttemberg have joined our Fourth 
Army, the Bavarian corps can find support nowheres. 

For the event, that we can advance on the left bank 
of the Rhine with all our forces, the Bavarian corps would 
have to be drawn up directly via Maxau, Germersheim and 

If, however, there is no necessity for the entire Fourth 
Army to advance towards Strassburg, a position of the 
Bavarian corps at Vendenheim against Strassburg might 
be sufficient to secure to us, after the forcible capture of the 
barrier-forts, the important Mannheim — Weissemburg — 
Vendenheim — Nancy R. R. 

We might possibly also charge the Bavarians with an 
investment of Strassburg. 

On May 13, 1868, a conference took place in Berlin between Gen- 
eral von Moltke and the military plenipotentiaries of Bavaria and 
Wiirttemburg concernin,e: the combined employment of the North and 
South German fighting forces in case of a war with France. The 
subject matter of his views expressed in that conference General v. 
Moltke submitted to the Chancellor, Count v. Bismarck, as follows: 

NO. 15 

Berlin, 13 May, 1868. 

Theoretically speaking, and considering the existing 
offensive and defensive alliance with Southern Germany, 
nothing will be necessary except for the South German con- 
tingents to be ready at the proper time and in full number 
to carry out the orders which His Majesty, the King of 
Prussia, will issue in his capacity as commander-in-chief in 
accordance with the situation of war with France. Prac- 
tically, however, the matter is different. 

An offensive and defensive alliance is always an in- 
complete form of mutual help, and has just so much value, as 
each party of the alliance is able to give help. In this rela- 
tion conditions of proportion are by no means equal. 


Preparations for War 

The North furnishes an army, the South furnishes con- 
tingents ; we have a war lord, the South but a confederation 
commander-in-chief; the South with the best intentions can 
but furnish us a coalition. 

The difference between a Union army and a coalition 
is well shown by the campaign of 1866. 

Austria had a defensive and offensive alliance with 
Southern Germany. It demanded no less than that the 
South German contingents should unite with the Austrian 
army in Bohemia. With a superiority of 90,000 men there 
was a hope to attain the main object of the war. But in this 
plan the South Germans were expected to leave their terri- 
tory defenseless against an invasion and it is easily under- 
stood that they declined to do so. 

The same thing occurred in a less degree with Bavaria. 
Bavaria had a defensive and offensive alliance with the 
South German States and had the supreme command. Its 
field marshal demanded what was entirely correct from a 
military standpoint, i.e., that the VlHth Confederation 
Corps join the Vllth Confederation Corps. But Nassau, 
Frankfurt and Darmstadt demanded protection, and an ad- 
vance was made west around the Vosges Mountains, where 
a junction to the front was impossible. 

And vice versa : Assuming that the Rhine land and 
Westphalia had been a Sovereign Grand-Duchy, would it 
have been possible, even with the existence of a defensive 
and offensive alliance, for it to send its entire force out of 
the country and to Bohemia, where the decision was to be 
found ? 

All special considerations may be disregarded in a 
Union, in a Confederation they have to be taken into ac- 
count. Consequently the question is not to demand from 
the South Germans what is militarily correct for the at- 
tainment of the war objective, but to demand what they can 
and will perform with due regard to their own security. And 
that may be arrived at by discussion. 

An immediate offense in superior force, which threatens 
the enemy in his own country, which holds his fighting force 
there, secures indirectly the whole of Germany. All states 


Moltke's Correspondence 

will willingly participate in that offense. But for such an 
offense political initiative is required and a readiness for 
war which cannot be found now in Southern Germany. 

Consequently also the first defensive protection of South 
Germany has to be considered. 

We believe the lower as well as the upper Rhine is best 
protected by an army on the central Rhine. The South 
German States need a firm guaranty that we will be there 
in time and in great strength, in order to come to a decision 
as to their measures, and that guaranty I can give. 

There are two ways for a defense: 

1. The direct, for which the South German States can 
concentrate within their frontier, in order to hold the Rhine 
Valley or the Black Forest from about Rottweil, or to at 
least hold the Iller in protecting Ulm. We do not consider 
this way the correct one, but we cannot object thereto. That 
in this way a direct participation by North German troops 
is excluded, is the result of long distance as well as of the 
guarding of the independence of the South German States. 
This then leaves but — 

2. The indirect defense, which bases itself on the North 
German fighting force on the Neckar and Main, advances 
on the flank and on the communications of the invasion 
made by the enemy and forces an immediate retreat of the 
same. Two Prussian army corps, 66,000 men, would be 
expressly assigned to form, with a combination Wiirttem- 
berg — Baden corps and two Bavarian corps, a left wing 
army of 140,000 men. This army would operate up the 
Neckar or up the Rhine, dependent on whether the enemy 
has already advanced, and on the left bank of the Rhine in 
case the advance is only threatened. It can be reinforced 
as necessary, if the enemy uses larger forces in his under- 
taking against Southern Germany, as in that case he will 
weaken his forces in our front by just so much. If he 
should renounce such a precarious expedition, as seems prob- 
able under the conditions, then the left wing army would at 
once conform to the movements of the main army and join 


Preparations for War 

Of course all this presupposes that the South German 
contingents are at hand at the proper time. 

Considering the existing readiness for war of our neigh- 
bors we must insist that on the 21st day, after orders have 
been issued in Berlin for the mobilization of the North 
German Army, the South German contingents are ready for 
march and transportation in larger detachments within their 
territorial frontiers, that the rolling stock of the respective 
railroads is in readiness and that each State has taken proper 
steps for the erection of depots to subsist its troops and has 
the means of transport supplies. 

Concerning now specially the different points of con- 
centration, we would have to come to an agreement with the 
separate States, with due regard to local conditions, and 
special interests, as to the following : 

The Baden division assembles the troops garrisoned in 
the southern part of the Grand Duchy under protection of 
Rastatt, the ones in the northern part will join after they 
become disengaged through the advance of the left wing 
army. The Wtirttemberg division has only to draw up the 
regiments becoming disposable by cutting the Ulm garrison 
in half, to be concentrated at Stuttgart — Ludwigsburg. 

We would counsel for Bavaria a formation of two army 
corps, of which the 1st Corps assembles at Nordlingen, the 
lid at Wiirzburg. The troops in the Palatinate would form 
into a strong brigade at Landau, which in case of need re- 
tires on Germersheim. 

Of course in this distribution of the South German 
fighting forces not the strategic advance of these but the 
first position of readiness made necessary by existing con- 
ditions, is meant. The actual junction, considering the lim- 
ited time, may have to be made possibly during the course 
of operations against the enemy. 

If a French army should have already crossed the Black 
Forest on the 21st day, the Prussian corps of the left wing 
army would advance in the direction Heilbronn — Ludwigs- 
burg — Stuttgart, would receive the Wtirttemberg division, 
and draw up the lid Bavarian Corps from Wiirzburg. Thus 
Ulm and the 1st Bavarian Corps would secure the Bavarian 


Moltke's Correspondence 

territory against the invasion of the hostile leading ele- 
ments. The left wing army must under all circumstances 
be made numerically superior to and must immediately at- 
tack the hostile main force in Southern Germany in a di- 
rection endangering all of that force's communications. 

When, on the other hand, the enemy who has advanced 
across the Rhine (as a matter of fact, he cannot do other- 
wise) turns down the Rhine against our strong fighting 
force concentrated on the Neckar, then the Wiirttemberg 
division would immediately have to join, fully utilizing the 
railroads, the left wing army going via Bruchsal, and the 
lid Bavarian Corps also, going via Darmstadt and Heidel- 
berg, as well as the 1st Bavarian Corps, via Stuttgart. 

If the decision to proceed to war has been arrived at 
in proper time it at least will not be impossible to assemble 
the left wing in the Palatinate even before the enemy crosses 
the upper Rhine, in order to thus protect, in connection 
with our main force, this valuable part of German ground 
and to give, through an offensive on the left bank of the 
Rhine, the best security to the south. This means that the 
entire South German contingents, utilizing the already men- 
tioned railroads via Maxau, Germersheim and Ludwig- 
shafen, should join with the Prussian Corps, at the start, 
in the vicinity of Landau. 

Based on his discussions with the representatives of the South 
German Armies, General von Moltke composed, in 1868, the following 
sketch of a plan, which he revised and supplemented in January and 
March 18C9:— 

NO. 16 

A. First Concentration of the Army in a War 
With France Alone 

In a war which we conduct against France alone, we 
are in the fortunate situa>tion of being able to concentrate 
our entire fighting forces in the Bavarian Palatinate, uti- 
lizing six trunk lines. 


Preparations for War 

If the French desire to utilize their entire railroad net, 
they will be compelled to concentrate around Metz and 
Strassburg in two groups separated by the Vosges, between 
which we will be in the very start on the inner line of 

It would not be justifiable to leave a part of our field 
army for direct defense on the lower Rhine. That is pro- 
tected by Belgium's neutrality and, if this should not be 
respected, by the distance of the French frontier from ours. 
In the Palatinate we will be as close to Aix-la-Chapelle and 
Cologne as are the French to Diedenhofen and Mezieres. 
Our operation on the left bank of the Rhine across the Mosel 
takes the French operation against the Rhine in rear and 
compels the French to make front to the south with all their 
communications toward the flank. 

It would be just as little justifiable were the South 
Germans to try and directly defend the upper Rhine, or even 
only the Black Forest. In connection with the North Ger- 
man fighting forces and supported by them, an advance from 
the Palatinate on the left bank and up-stream will be of 
the utmost effect, even should the enemy have already 
crossed the stream. 

But the most assured protection to the strong lower, 
as well as to the weaker upper Rhine would be given by 
a decisive offensive with superior fighting forces into France, 
and it requires but a timely concentration of the means at 
hand to take that offensive. 

Four armies would have to be formed : 


First (right wing) Army around Wittlich, Vlllth 

and Vllth Army Corps 60,000 

Second (main) Army at Neunkirchen — Homburg 

Illd, IVth, Xth and Guard Corps 130,000 

Third (left wing) Army — at Landau, — Vth and 

Xlth Army Corps 1 60,000 

with the latter two South German army [ 

corps later J 80,000 

Fourth (reserve) Army in front of Mayence, the 
combined IXth Corps (18th Hessian, Inf. 1 

Div.) and Xllth Army Corps I 60,000 

And eventually the 1st, lid and Vlth Corps J 100,000 

We can count on 300,000 Prussian combatants for the 
offensive, and under favorable conditions on 500,000. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

First Army 
Vlllth Army Corps. 

The Vlllth and Vllth Army Corps are to be assembled 
in the shortest possible time in the vicinity of Wittlich — 

To protect this concentration the garrison of Trier 
forms the advance guard and should be reinforced imme- 
diately by at least one battery from Coblenz by rail, by 
steamer or by forced marches. The detachment must hold 
positions as near Trier, Schweich or Wittlich as possible. 

The battalion of the 69th Regiment joins the garrison 
in Saarbriicken. It falls back in the direction of St. Wendel, 
but only when forced to do so, and tries to protect the rail- 
road as long as possible, the destruction of which is to occur 
only when directly ordered by superior headquarters. 

In order to affect the concentration of the remaining 
troops of the army corps, it appears best to direct the 29th 
Regiment, the remainder of the 3d Battalion Foot Artillery, 
and the Jager battalion (to be brought up from Wetzlar by 
rail to Boppard) to the vicinity of Bernkastel by the road 
via Castellaun. 

The 60th, 67th and 72d Regiments will be transported 
on the 10th and 11th day to Andernach and Coblenz 
and with the mounted battalion of the artillery regiment 
and the pioneer battalion march by the road via Kaiseresch 
to Wittlich. 

It will be advisable to have the 33d Regiment, which 
will complete its organization on the 16th day, brought by 
steamer to Andernach and let it follow on the same road. 

The 8th Cuirassier Regiment and the 7th Hussar Regi- 
ment can march via Adenau and in addition the 1st Bat- 
talion of the Artillery Regiment. 

The 28th Regiment and the 2d Battalion of the Artillery 
are to be sent via Priim and from there according to cir- 
cumstances to Trier or Wittlich. Only in case (which is 
very improbable) that this march will be endangered from 
Luxemburg, the troops in Aix-la-Chapelle and Jiilich will 
first have to be drawn back to the Rhine. 


Preparations for War 

Thus, the concentration of the entire corps, except the 
33d Regiment, in the district Trier — Wittlich — Gonzerath 
can be completed by the evening of the 16th day of the mobil- 

To be able to assemble it on the left as well as on the 
right bank, it is advisable to throw a boat bridge at Bern- 
kastel even before the arrival of the ponton train. 

On the 14th already the advance guard can be reinforced 
by three battalions, four squadrons, and several batteries. 

Vllth Army Corps. 

According to the travel and march tables sketched out 
for the Vllth Army Corps, it will use the railroad lines 
Buende — Rhine — Unna — Cologne — Diiren — Call and the 
14th Infantry Division the line via Viersen to Eupen. 

Only the pioneer troops will start by marching from 

Considering that the road from Call to Wittlich will be 
taxed to its full capacity, it is advisable to establish an aux- 
iliary depot and a line of communications headquarters in 

In this manner the troops of the corps, exclusive of 
their trains, will be concentrated in the vicinity of Wittlich 
on the evening of the 17th mobilization day. 

The entire corps with all of its columns and trains 
will be ready and able to take up operations in Wittlich 
on the 20th day, at Trier on the 21st day. 

This means that the First Army, after the close of 
the 17th day, can enter a battle at Wittlich, or march off in 
any ordered direction, with 50 battalions, 32 squadrons and 
30 batteries — a total of 60,000 men. 

The advance guard in Trier will probably have to be 
reinforced earlier than that, according to circumstances. 

Headquarters of the First Army will have to regulate 
the station of the troops arriving successively at Wittlich, 
and the Supply Department will have to take proper steps 
in advance for their subsistence in crowded cantonments, 
which presumably will be for but a very short time. 


Moltke's Correspondence 


Illd, IVth, Xth and Guard Corps. 

On the arrival of the troop trains we will learn from 
the weak detachment at Saarbrucken (2 battalions, 4 squad- 
rons of the Vlllth A. C.) to what extent and in what 
direction the Nahe and the Ludwig railroad can be used in 
the Palatinate. 

On these lines, of which the latter is protected in the 
very start by a Bavarian brigade at Landau, the first de- 
tachments of the Hid and IVth Army Corps will arrive 
early on the 12th day. These then detrain as far to the front 
as circumstances will allow, in order to first support the 
detachment of the Vlllth Corps, then to relieve it and to 
protect the railroads; they will also eventually move more 
to the rear in order to drive off weaker hostile detachments 
which may already have invaded the country. 

The two above mentioned corps will have their full 
quota of troops on the 15th day and will take a position in 
front of the line Neunkirchen — Zweibriicken (about near 
Bildstock and St. Ingbert), behind which position the Xth 
and the Guard Corps will debark hy the 19th day at Neun- 
kirchen and at Homburg. 

In the afternoon of the 19th day after mobilization then, 
the troops of the entire Army, but without trains, will be 
concentrated ; about 104 battalions, 107 squadrons, and 60 
batteries — about 130,000 combatants. 

It is not probable that by that time a stronger French 
army will have crossed the frontier. Should this be the 
case, then the Second Army will have to fall back in the 
direction of Kaiserslautern on the Reserve Army, in which 
case the railroads in rear of Neunkirchen and Homburg 
should be but temporarily interrupted. 

If on the other hand the Second Army holds the posi- 
tion on the frontier, its headquarters can ordsr a reconnais- 
sance of four cavalry divisions, supported by infantry, 
against the Mosel district Thionville — Nancy to gain in- 
formation concerning the enemy. 


Preparations for War 


Vth, Xlth Corps, 1st, and lid Bavarian Corps, 
WUrttemberg ayid Baden Division. 

By the arrival of the two infantry Divisions of the 
Vth Army Corps, the Bavarian position at Landau will be 
reinforced between the 13th to the 15th mobilization day. 
By noon of the 18th mobilization day the troops of the Vth 
Army Corps will have arrived, and also, by marching and 
partly by rail, the larger part of the Xlth Army Corps, 
about 44 battalions, 40 squadrons, 26 batteries, a total of 
about 55,000 Prussian combatants, which will find a strong 
position behind the Kling creek. 

(Bridge at Maxau to be kept intact and protected. 
Rastatt to be occupied by the 34th Regiment ; supplies, rein- 
forcements, etc., to be sent there. A Prussian engineer 
officer to be sent to Rastatt.) 

The arrival of the South Germans has been promised 
by that day, which would augment the Third Army to a 
strength of about 150,000 men. 

Here also army headquarters will order a reconnais- 
sance by the cavalry in the direction of Strassburg. 


Combined IXth Corps, Saxon Xllth Corps and even- 
tually 1st and lid Corps. 

By the twentieth mobilization day there can be as- 
sembled in an extremely favorable battle position at Marn- 
heim on the road to Kaiserlautern : 

The 18th and the Hessian Division (concentrated at 
Worms) combined as the IXth Army Corps, and the Xllth 
Army Corps, in the start 60,000 men, which will immedi- 
ately be followed by reserve artillery and by the cavalry. 

Had the Second Army been forced to retreat, we would 
accept the decisive battle at Mannheim with about 160,000 
men (six complete army corps). 

The Vth and Xlth Army Corps undoubtedly can also 
be brought up in time from the Third Army, and that with- 
in three marches. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Furthermore, the corps of the First Army concentrated 
on the sixteenth and seventeenth days at Wittlich (in so far 
as they do not have important fighting forces in their front, 
which, however,would then also be absent from the French 
fighting forces) can be started in the direction of Lauter- 
ecken to the enemy's left flank and rear. 

Presupposing timely arrival, on the twentieth day 
300,000 men (nine complete corps, even if the Vllth cannot 
come up) can be engaged together, and this fighting force 
can be materially strengthened in the next succeeding days ; 
if at all possible the 1st, lid and the Vlth Army Corps 
should also be brought up. 

If the Second Army has maintained its position, then 
the Fourth (Reserve) Army can have reached the former's 
immediate rear by the evening of the twenty-first day. 

All army corps will be completely supplied with their 
trains only by the twenty-third or twenty-fourth day, still 
the offensive can commence on the twenty-second. 

Should it be found that the hostile main force turns 
through Luxemburg or finally through Belgium against the 
lower Rhine, then in a movement against the north the 
First Army would form the advance guard behind the Mosel, 
the Second Army the left, the Fourth the right wing, and 
the Third Army would, according to conditions, advance 
offensively against Strassburg or against Metz. 

Consequently the proposed concentration makes it pos- 
sible to accept a defensive battle in front of the Rhine on 
the twentieth day after commencement of mobilization and 
with probably superior numbers, and to advance offensively 
in a westerly direction across the frontier on the twenty- 
second day with 300,000 men. Whether or not the 1st, lid 
and Vlth Corps, still in rear, can also be drawn up to the 
Rhine can be ascertained then. Possibly it will always 
be necessary to send one division from one of these corps 
to relieve the Xllth Corps in Dresden. 


Preparations for War 


For active defense of our coast four Landwehr divi- 
sions will be organized and that at the same time as the 
above discussed main concentration of the army. 

1st District. — Emden — Bremerhaven; in addition to 
8,000 men local garrisons, the 3d Landwehr Division — 10,800 
men — at Bremen. 

2d District. — Hamburg — Wismar; in addition to local 
garrison (17,750 men), the mobile 17th Infantry Division 
— 15,000 men — at Hamburg. 

As a reserve for both, the mobile Guard Landwehr 
Division, 15,000 men, in Hanover. 

Thus we can concentrate about 40,000 men for defense 
of the North Sea coast. 

3d District. — Stralsund — Colberg; in addition to local 
garrisons, the 2d Landwehr Division, 10,400 men, at Stettin. 

4th District. — Danzig — Memel ; in addition to local gar- 
risons, the 1st Landwehr Division, 10,400 men, at Elbing. 

A total of about 60,000 men. 

Should a French landing expedition be intended, it 
undoubtedly will occur in the North Sea and probably in 
the very first stages of hostilities. If the French fighting 
forces are attacked in their own country, the French will 
hardly undertake such an operation. 

The coast divisions (the mobile ones first) would then 
be available to guard the lines of communications to the rear. 

Should Denmark participate in the war, then it may 
become necessary to bring up the 17th Infantry Division to 
support the 18th in the Duchies. 

Should* the French occupy Belgium they must utilize 
at least 120,000 men for that purpose, in order to occupy 
Brussels and to besiege, invest or at least observe the Bel- 
gian army assembled in Antwerp. 

But as this procedure cannot be tolerated by either 
England or Prussia, France will be forced to at once place 
all of its fighting forces on a war footing. In addition to 

*Here commences the addition to the memorial composed on the 
10th of March, 1869. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Rome and Algiers it would have to observe the western fron- 
tier and the north coast. After garrisoning the fortresses 
of Paris and Lyons, it would have about 180,000 men to 
carry out its offensive. 

It surely cannot be their intention to await develop- 
ment of events retaining this large force in a passive at- 
titude; on the whole, the entire matter might only be the 
start of a war against Germany, and, of course, in a direc- 
tion which is the least dangerous to us. 

Should the French main force be concentrated in the 
vicinity of Metz — Strassburg, the two armies would in two 
separate theaters of war, 160 to 200 [English] miles dis- 
tant, and without possibility of mutual support. 

Should the Hollanders join a French alliance, this rein- 
forcement would be offset by an English landing in Ant- 

The French North Army would be contained in Belgium 
and could not undertake anything serious against our line 
of fortresses on the Rhine. We would assemble in the Rhine 
Palatinate all disposable forces against the South Army, 
would take the offensive with a superiority of 100,000 men, 
would frustrate a march by the enemy via Luxemburg 
to Aix-la-Chapelle to join the North Army, would force the 
South Army back on Paris, and would at the same time 
force the evacuation of Belgium. 

If the French enter Belgium at all, they can do so only 
by concentrating their main force on the line Lille — Mezi- 
eres and advancing through Belgium across the Maas. 

That would mean that they will reach our frontier from 
ten to fourteen days later than they could from the line 
Metz — Strassburg; that they have no hope of receiving 
support in Southern Germany ; and that they will have to 
weaken their army by at least 80,000 men by investing 
Antwerp. They could then reach our Rhine front with 
hardly more than 200,000 men. 

According to my view, we could meet such a procedure 
more effectively if we advance against the French from the 
Mosel than were we to appear from the Rhine fortresses in 
the front. We could compel the French to make front 


Preparations for War 

towards the south, which would leave all their communica- 
tions on the flank. 

The distance from Maubeuge to Cologne is larger than 
that from Homburg to Cologne. Supposing that mobili- 
zation starts at the same time on both sides, we would 
arrive in good time from the Palatinate, still we could do 
that quicker from Coblenz and Mayence on a shorter road. 

If we desired to advance on Paris with our main force 
from the Palatinate, not paying any attention to the in- 
vasion of the French main force, then we would reach the 
vicinity on the other side of the Argonne Forest, as we 
would find no resistance, at about the same time that the 
French would reach our frontier at Aix-la-Chapelle. We 
are 120 [English] miles, the French 320 [English] miles 
from the opponent's capital. 

Still a mere advance on fortified Paris would of course 
not bring matters to a decision, and we might better oper- 
ate from the line Luxemburg — Pont-a-Mousson, converg- 
ing along the Mosel in the direction of Sedan. From there 
we will at one and the same time threaten Paris and com- 
pel the French army to return from Belgium, to make front 
against us and accept our battle, without which the war 
cannot be ended. 

That operation would bring the conditions between 
both sides to a crisis. We conduct the operation in a hos- 
tile country, but that country might also be in a state of 
insurrection at the same time ; we have no railroad behind 
us and weaken ourselves at Thionville, Metz and Verdun. 
The result of the loss of the battle could not be calculated, 
still in the battle we will be the stronger, as the French 
will have to leave a part of their forces opposed to the Bel- 
gium army, or will, should they march off, draw the Bel- 
gians after them. 

We would gain the same advantage with less danger 
if we advance from the line Luxemburg — Trier — Coblenz 
converging on Luttich, in which case of course we would 
have to march through the Eifel, Ardennes and Hohe Venn. 

In order to reach the line Coblenz — Luxemburg for our 
first position no material changes are necessary in the meas- 


Moltke's Correspondence 

ures already sketched out for the concentration in the 
Palatinate; all that is required would be to stop the troop 
transports at Coblenz and diverge them from Mayence to 
Bingen and Coblenz. 

The Vllth and Vlllth Army Corps would be concen- 
trated on the 15th day of mobilization at Stadtkyll __60,000 men 

The Second Army can reach the vicinity of Luxemburg 
— Trier, in 3 marches, even if the route of trans- 
port is not changed, consequently by the 18th to 
the 21st day 130,000 men 

The Xlth and Xllth Corps, as well as the 18th In- 
fantry Division, can be concentrated at Coblenz 
by the 18th day 73,000 men 

The Vth Corps and the Darmstadt Division, via Bingen, 

at Zell-on-the-Mosel by the 20th day 45,000 men 

In about 4 to 5 marches, that is by the 26th day, and 

by converging marches, an army of a total of 308,000 men 

The distance from Lille — Maubeuge to Liittich could 
be covered by ten average marches. If we assume that the 
French will complete mobilization and march into position 
by the 15th day, they cannot interfere with this advance. 

B. — First Concentration of the Army in a War 
Against France and Austria 

In case Austria takes part in a war with France against 
Prussia, we could not bring to bear a superiority in num- 
bers towards either side by a division of our forces. 

Consequently the question of first importance is: 
against which enemy will carry out a defensive at the start 
with weak forces, in order to take the offensive against 
the other with as strong a force as possible. 

Undoubtedly the Rhine with its fortresses gives us a 
better defensive line against France than we have against 
Austria. We can count with certainty on the fact that this 
defensive line, supported by 100,000 men, will hold out from 
six to eight weeks, but we would have Southern Germany, 
if not against us, certainly not with us. The French would 
go around our Rhine front via Worms, and operate through 
Franconia against Berlin, and only an offensive in strong 
force from the Palatinate can prevent them from doing so. 
To this is to be added that the Austrians probably will not 


Preparations for War 

accept a battle in Bohemia nor in Moravia, but will await 
the effects of a French invasion in a fortified camp at Olmiitz 
or behind the Danube, which might then easily bring our 
offensive to a standstill. 

Austria — at the present time having but 100 men per 
battalion — will hardly be ready as soon as we will if we 
commence mobilization early for an unavoidable war, and 
we may have a free hand from six to eight weeks. 

France not only is our most dangerous enemy, but also 
the one most ready. If we invade French territory, French 
pride will not wait for Austria, we will be attacked at 
once. If we have superior numbers we may hope to gain a 
victory in the very first few days. Such a victory will prob- 
ably cause a change in the French dynasty. As we desire 
nothing from France, we may be able to conclude an early 
peace with the new reigning power. 

Should Austria in the meantime have actually occupied 
Silesia, Brandenburg and the capital, if our weak defensive 
army — without having been beaten — had given away, noth- 
ing definite would have happened to our disadvantage. 

Add to this, in the west we cannot expect foreign sup- 
port and have to be strong here in consequence, while in 
the east Russia would presumably give us more or less ac- 
tive support. If we advance against Vienna, it is true that 
Russia has no active interests in helping us; but it is differ- 
ent if the Austrians threaten Berlin. 

For these reasons I would suggest concentrating ten 
army corps for an immediate offensive in the Palatinate, 
and placing three army corps in position against Austria, 
which, reinforced by the 1st and 2d Landwehr Divisions, 
would be of a strength of about 120,000 men. The defense 
of the little endangered Baltic coast will in that case have 
to be abandoned. 

Should Austria intend to turn its entire force against 
us, Russia would be left completely free to carry out its 
probable intentions in the Orient; Austria can hardly leave 
the Wallachia — Moldavia frontier entirely without troops. 

An advance into Silesia is seriously endangered, should 
a Russian observation army — concentrated, say, at Czensto- 


Moltke's Correspondence 

chau (on the Warsaw — Kattowitz R. R.) — commence oper- 
ations. Such an observation army presumably will be as- 
sembled in consideration of conditions in the Kingdom of 
Poland, and the Austrians will be compelled to have an 
army opposite it at Olmiitz. 

Only troops not required for this army will be avail- 
able for an advance from Prague directly on Berlin. This 
is the most dangerous direction for us. 

We on our part would have to decide in the first place 
whether to base our weak defensive army on the Oder or 
on the Elbe. The former direction facilitates connection of 
the fighting forces from Silesia with those which must be 
started to Dresden — Gorlitz to relieve the Xllth Corps. 
A retreat behind the Oder brings us closer to Russian sup- 
port and leads finally to the large fortresses on the Vistula 
and to Danzig, which, situated on the sea, is more suited 
than any other of our war depots to receive and protect 
an entire army for a longer time. 

Still in spite of these large advantages we must con- 
sider that the Russian support is not at all assured, and 
that it is a dangerous practice to directly join a stronger 
ally. By doing so the Prussian defensive army would lose 
its independence and must coordinate its movements to the 
intentions of its ally. 

To this is to be added that the probable advance of the 
enemy directly on Berlin can be flanked closer and more 
effectively from the Elbe than from the Oder. 

In a retreat on Torgau we remain in connection with 
our main forces on the Rhine and finally find a receiving 
place in the enlarged Madgeburg, which, actively defended 
by an as yet unbeaten army of 100,000 men, would be diflfi- 
cult to attack. 

I would therefore prefer the latter direction, if it can 
be done. 

Should the force designated for the defense of the 
eastern half of the Monarchy be assembled at one point, 
that point ought to be Gorlitz, on account of its location and 
railroad connections, from which we can meet the advance 


Preparations for War 

of the enemy in Silesia as well as we can in the Lausitz or 
in Saxony. 

Consequently there remains to be considered — 

1st. That we cannot possibly leave Silesia at the very 
start without troops and abandon it altogether; 

2d. that it is not advisable to draw the Xllth Army 
Corps to the Rhine, if it cannot be replaced in Dresden 
by at least one infantry division ; 

3d. that even if fully concentrated we should accept a 
decision only under the most favorable conditions, as very 
probably we may be compelled to retreat. 

Consequently, a partition of forces appears to me abso- 
lutely necessary. 

Finally, with our forces combined we can appear only 
in Silesia or in Brandenburg and the Austrians can advance 
in both directions ; they can do so in the first direction with 
a secondary army, the concentration of which I presume to 
be at Olmiitz — which at the same time would serve as an 
observation army against Russia and might therefore be 
easily stopped from a further advance, so that but a weaker 
detachment may possibly be sufficient to guard Breslau ; 
but in the latter direction the Austrians will advance with 
their main force via Dresden directly on Berlin. 

I believe the Vlth Army Corps will have to concentrate 
at Neisse — Frankenstein, threatening via Glatz the hostile 
main railroad at Wildenschwerdt. A detachment in the 
fortified camp at Cosel, eventually supported by Landsturm, 
will serve for observation of at least upper Silesia. Com- 
pelled by superior numbers, the corps will fall back on 
Liegnitz, taking the hostile advance on Breslau in the flank. 
The movement via Gorlitz is protected by the "Riesenge- 
birge" (the chain of mountains between Silesia and Bo- 
hemia) and facilitated by the railroads. 

The lid and 1st Army Corps would in general have to 
be drawn up to Dresden, with exception of the 1st Division, 
which should be posted in Gorlitz to keep up the connection 
with Silesia. The two Landwehr divisions would join the 
concentration at Dresden. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

An advance on Dresden is difficult for the Austrians 
and offers us a presumably fortunate offensive. Should we 
be compelled to retreat, we can do so either on the one or 
the other bank of the Elbe and at Riesa, and in any event at 
Torgau, we cut loose from the pursuit. 

It is not probable that the Austrians would advance be- 
yond Dresden on the left bank of the Elbe; to reach Berlin 
they would have to cross the stream between our fortresses 
and in the face of our defensive army. 

There are but two through routes on the right bank, 
the highways via Herzberg and via Liibben, which run 
about parallel at an average distance of six miles from each 
other. The first has the advantage of running along the 
railroad, but it runs so close to the Elbe that we can reach 
it via Torgau and even via Wittenberg in one march. The 
enemy can hardly pass and pay no attention to our army 
there, which in any case is some 60,000 men strong. To at- 
tack that army behind the covering Elbe, is difficult. Even 
the complete investment of the bridgehead at Torgau and 
of the fortress of Wittenberg would not give entire security 
against the army's advance. With that obstacle behind it, 
advancing straight against the enemy's line of operation, 
against one (necessarily very deep) or several (in that case 
two marches distant) columns of the enemy, we would not 
have to be afraid of a decisive battle, as in case of misfor- 
tune the river precludes pursuit — the bridges being open 
to us and closed to the enemy — and as the connection with 
Madgeburg can not be endangered. 

But in order to guard Berlin as much as possible against 
danger, at least against hostile detachments, one detach- 
ment would have to directly retire on the capital in addition 
to the flank defense which is so important according to my 
views. That detachment would be composed of the 1st 
Division at Gorlitz, and it has to remain fully oriented as to 
the enemy's advance. It is not so easy for an enemy to 
march with weak forces into a city of some half a million in- 
habitants, as long as there is nucleus of armed force around 
which armed resistance could rally. 


Preparations for War 

We still have to consider the position or attitude the 
South German States will take in the supposed war situation, 
and what we can demand of them. 

As always with mere coalitions, which are not always 
exactly what is desirable from a military standpoint, noth- 
ing is done but what is thought to be advantageous to both 
parties to the coalition. It would be entirely useless to stipu- 
late anything else in advance, because it is never carried out. 
We can not expect of the Bavarians that they will send their 
entire fighting force to the Rhine Palatinate and abandon 
Munich to an Austrian invasion. We cannot even demand 
that they join us behind the Iron Mountains (Erzgebirge) . 

An army in the Rhine Palatinate would protect the 
Rhine as far as Basle more effectively than it could protect 
the Bavarian eastern frontier by a concentration around 
Dresden, seeing that Salzburg is twice the distance, and be- 
fore all because we, even if united with Bavaria, would 
hardly be strong enough for an offensive through which 
such a flank position gains its value. 

The Bavarians have a vital interest in seeing their 
Rhine Palatinate protected and they will not object to the 
brigade, now there, joining our fighting forces at Landau. 
According to my view the Bavarian main army should con- 
centrate on the lower Inn. 

Passau offers a strong defensive position, the Danube 
and the Isar secure the retreat on Regensburg, and also se- 
cures Ingolstadt against superior forces. But the Bavarians, 
in consideration of direct protection to Munich, may prefer 
a concentration at Altotting — Tittmoning,* although they 
will always have to fall back to one side on Ingolstadt if 
opposed by a stronger army. 

Both concentrations are acceptable to us. They seri- 
ously threaten Austria's capital and its connection through 
Moravia. The Austrians cannot do without an observation 
army against the Bavarians and, in order to make that enemy 
of no danger in rear, that army must be strong, thereby 

* Altotting is east of Munich near the Inn; Tittmoning is on the 
Salzach, southeast of Altotting; consequently a concentration between 
the Inn and the Salzach would result. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

weakening the main army some other place. Austria can- 
not at one and the same time observe the Russians and 
offensively advance in Silesia, in the Lausitz, or against the 
Bavarians. It will be weak in one of these places and there 
we must take the offensive and disengage the endangered 
auxiliary army. 

However, we could not approve a concentration of the 
Bavarian forces say in a fortified camp at Ingolstadt, to re- 
main inactive there. 

Not only Baden but also Wurttemberg are threatened 
sooner and more directly by France than by Austria. Their 
contingents would have to be sent to the Rhine Palatinate 
as has already been agreed on. 

There would be then disposable there, inclusive of a 
Bavarian brigade: 

North Germans 310,000 men 

South Germans 40,000 men 

350,000 men 

French active army 336,000 men 

Deduct: in Algiers 35,000 men 

in Rome 5,000 men 40,000 men 

296,000 men 

From this total should be deducted the necessary line 
troops for the fortresses Strassburg, Metz, Thionville, 
Lille, etc., and for Paris and Lyons, at least if we get ahead 
of the French offensive. Even if there is no necessity, con- 
sidering conditions in Spain, for placing an observation 
corps near the Pyrenees, we will have hardly more than 
250,000 men in the first line opposed to us. 

The French Reserve Army, 93,000 men, has still to be 

Of our immediately available Landwehr divisions we 
can utilize at least 35,000 men against the west. 

Consequently : 

350,000 men against 295,000 men 
35,000 men against 93,000 men 
and reserves 

A total of 

385,000 men against 343,000 men. 


Preparations for War 

The Bavarians surely would put forward their best efforts for 
the protection of their own country. 

Under such conditions their strength might be estir«ated 
as 50,000 men 

Opposed to Austria there would be (Prussians) 110,000 men 

a total of 160,000 men, 

but these would be in separate groups without direct mutual 
support. There is no doubt but what the Austrians can ad- 
vance with superior numbers against any of these groups, 
but it is just as certain that these groups will fall back and 
that Austria's offensive operations will be materially hin- 
dered by the other groups. 

As soon as we are able to have a part of our fighting 
forces available against the French, we will assure our- 
selves, as well as to the Bavarians, the greatest help, by 
bringing up the available troops to the Danube via Stutt- 
gart and Wiirzburg. 

NO. 17 

To Colonel Veith and Lieutenant Colonel Count 

Berlin, 1 December, 1868. 

It should be considered, whether it would be advisable 
to transport the available artillery ahead of the reserve 

With the Second Army, which is more or less on out- 
post, numerous artillery would be an impediment in case of a 
necessary retreat. Strong cavalry would be a great help. 

On the other hand, the artillery is of more value than 
the cavalry in the strong position at Mannheim. 

As a matter of fact a large cavalry reconnaissance 
can be dispensed with up to the 28th day, because we will 
be ready for operations only from the 30th to the 36th 

*Chiefs of Sections, Great General Staff. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

I leave it to you whether or not changes can be made in 
the march and travel tables, in order to make the Second 
Army ready for operations as early as possible, even at the 
cost of the Reserve Army. 

In any case it appears advisable to me to complete the 
full equipment of the Vth Corps ahead of the Xllth Corps. 
If a front has to be made against the south, the latter corps 
will in any case have to be relieved first. 

In the winter of 1868-69, General v. Moltke again worked out a 
memorial, in which he fully discussed the first position of the army 
in a war against France and against Austria at one and the same 
time, and also in a war with the former alone. This work, published 
in part in the General Staff Account of the War of 1870-71, has 
Moltke's own notation: "Applies also to 1870." During 1869 and 1870 
this work was revised several times, the last time in July 1870. 

NO. 18 
First Position of the Army 

If the political situation brings about a war of France 
against Prussia, then the attitude of Austria will be either 
decidedly hostile or at least very doubtful. 

Should we oppose one half of our army to each of these 
two powers, we would be superior to neither. Therefore 
the first thing to be considered is: against which enemy 
will we in the start assume the defensive with minor forces, 
in order to advance offensively as strong as possible against 
the other? 

The Rhine with its fortresses undoubtedly affords us a 
defensive line against France, which we have not against 
Austria — a line which 100,000 men can hold from four to 
six weeks against any and all superior numbers. 

But in a defensive attitude against that side we would 
hardly have South Germany with us, if we do not have it 
against us. The French would go around our Rhine front 
via Worms to operate through Franconia against Berlin, 
while our main force, even after successful operations, 
would come to a stand possibly in front of Olmiitz or on the 


Preparations for War 

Danube. It would not at all be impossible for the Austrians 
to decline to accept a decision in Bohemia or Moravia, and 
await behind their defensive lines the success of their allies. 
In financial straits, with weak peace cadres, Austria re- 
quires in any case a longer time to complete its mobilization, 
and it is very probable that we will have a free hand against 
France for some six to eight weeks, if we take the initiative. 

Neither Austria nor France is strong enough to carry 
on a war without allies against Northern Germany. As 
soon as Austria commences its mobilization, we ought to 
immediately declare war against France. We should not be 
kept from doing this by the fact of being the aggressor, for 
we may be sure that Austria will not mobilize, before an un- 
derstanding has been arrived at betw^een both powers as to 
an advance, for which France merely gives its ally time to 

If we invade French territory, then French sentiment 
will not wait for Austria. France is not only the most 
dangerous but the most ready enemy, and we will be cer- 
tain to encounter this enemy very soon. The size of the 
armies, their limited space for concentration and the diffi- 
culties of subsistence and supply, indicate a quick decision 
as far as both sides are concerned, and we may say with 
certainty, that in the first few weeks a contact will be had, 
which, in case of being to our advantage, would cause Aus- 
tria to return its half-drawn sword to the scabbard. 

Had the Austrians completed their armament and con- 
centration while we were seeking a rapid decision on the 
other side of the Rhine, had they occupied Silesia and a part 
of the provinces of Brandenburg and Prussia, then surely 
nothing definite would have been lost, as long as our fort- 
resses there hold their own and as long as the defensive 
army there retreats unbeaten. It is probable that after the 
first unsuccessful battle a change in the dynasty will occur 
in France, and as we do not desire to take anything away 
from France we may soon be able to come to terms with 
the new government or new monarchy. 

Considering all these reasons, I suggest that we desig- 
nate ten army corps for an offensive against France, and 


Moltke's Correspondence 

three army corps for a defensive against Austria. For the 
reinforcement of the latter and for the active defense of the 
coast, a mobile Landwehr division should be formed,' and the 
17th Division should be kept back for observation against 
Denmark — that division to be replaced in the IXth Army 
Corps by the Hessian Division. 

It is self-evident that all forces should be employed 
against France if we have to fight against it alone for a 
longer time. 

1. — Defense Against Austria 

It is hard to state in advance with what numerical su- 
periority Austria can take the field against us, but it is 
certain that that country's superiority will develop only 
with the progress of its mobilization and armament. 

In 1866 Austria put 340,000 men in the field, which took 
it four months. There is no reason to assume that at the 
present time it could arm and mobilize more quickly or in 
stronger force. 

Interior conditions of the Empire will hardly allow the 
provinces to be stripped of all troops; considerations in re- 
spect to other countries, especially Russia, and possibly also 
Bavaria, will compel Austria to place troops also on other 
frontiers besides the Prussian frontier. It is not to be as- 
sumed that Austria will leave a free hand to Russia in the 
Danube Principalities nor in Galicia in order to employ all 
its forces against us. If Russia, not counting the Caucasian 
Army, places in the field 

8 inf. divisions at Bender; 
12 inf. div. and 2 cav. div. at Wolocysk; 
2 inf. divisions against Brody, 

it can still concentrate 18 infantry divisions and 2 cavalry 
divisions in a comparatively short time around Czenstochau, 
which would threaten the rear of any advance through 

It seems probable that Austria will be forced to con- 
centrate an observation army possibly at Olmiitz and event- 
ually on the lower Inn, and then only the remainder of its 
fighting forces, exclusive of many garrisons, could be utilized 
against us. 


Preparations for War 

Even if Russia does not actually interfere at the be- 
ginning of the campaign, all Austrian operations in Silesia 
are endangered from the Russian side in the degree in which 
they advance. 

Consequently all considerations make it apparent that 
the Austrians will march from Bohemia directly on Berlin, 
and by the right bank of the Elbe, as otherwise they would 
have to re-cross that stream between our fortresses and 
in the face of our defense. 

Therefore we must take our measures primarily against 
such an operation. 

With due regard to the most rapid and combined as- 
sembly of all of the North German army corps it is advis- 
able to designate the 1st and lid for the defensive against 
Austria and to reinforce them by the 1st and 3d mobile 
Landwehr divisions to 83,600 men. Under the pressure of 
the moment the active defense of the Baltic sea coast must 
be left to the forces now stationed for defense on the North 
Sea, and this can be done, because there is little probability 
of an expedition in the North Sea. 

Furthermore, there would remain disposable for defense 
in Silesia the Vlth Army Corps with a strength of 30,000 
men and adding to it the above 82,600 men would give a 
total of 113,600 men. 

To assemble that force at one point, for instance at 
Gorlitz, is not allowable. 

On the one hand it would not be justifiable were we to 
take all the troops from Silesia, and on the other hand we 
could not draw off the Xllth Army Corps from Dresden be- 
fore it is relieved, and that by at least one Prussian division. 

The Silesian Army Corps can best be concentrated on 
the line Nisse — Frankenstein to guard the frontier and to 
threaten, via Glatz, the enemy's main railroad at Wilden- 

Should the enemy enter Silesia at all, he would do so 
with that part of his army, the concentration of which I pre- 
suppose to be at Olmiitz, which must at the same time serve 
for observation against the Russians, and the operations of 
which consequently can be made more difficult by having to 


Moltke's Correspondence 

detach minor forces. Presumably that corps would not be 
strong enough to oppose an enemy's advance on Breslau, 
but it would flank such an advance by retiring via Schweid- 

However, if the Austrians advance with their combined 
forces against the Lausitz, then the bringing up of the Vlth 
Corps to Gorlitz will be protected against Bohemia by the 
mountains and hastened by using two railroads. 

It is also to be presumed that the main power of our 
defensive army will be too weak to directly oppose the en- 
emy. Retiring on Berlin, it would draw the enemy after it 
to that place, which is just his objective, or the decision 
would have to be accepted in the open field this side of the 

Better success is promised by a flank position, which 
can be based on the Oder or on the Elbe, or both at one and 
the same time. For the former, we would take a position 
at Gorlitz, which facilitates connection with the Vlth Corps 
and in which we would be closer to Russian support. But 
this support is only a conditional one, and it will always re- 
main a matter of grave doubt whether or not to join a 
stronger ally directly, and that means to place ourselves 
under )iis orders. But as a matter of fact the Elbe flanks 
a hostile advance on Berlin, and effectively so, because on 
that stream our defensive army could remain in connection 
with our main forces on the Rhine and finds, until it can 
be reinforced from there, a sure rallying point in the en- 
larged Madgeburg. The Elbe with its fortresses, affords 
to an offensively conducted flank defense great advantages 
which will be acceptable when opposed to a superior enemy. 
Each and every advance from any bridge-head compels 
the enemy to make front and to fight with all of his com- 
munications on one flank. In case of reverses, we find 
complete security behind the stream, and a pursuit would 
take the enemy away from Berlin. 

That the enemy can get ahead of us in that direction 
would not scare us ; the advantages of the situation will ap- 
pear only when the enemy undertakes to pass us. Of course 
in such a procedtire Berlin will have to be guarded by a de- 


Preparations for War 

tachment on the road thereto against incursions by flying 
columns. The enemy also must weaken himself by sieges 
the farther he advances ; at least on the right bank, at Dres- 
den, Torgau and Wittenberg and by a careful guarding of 
his line of communications. Thus he may easily lose his 
numerical superiority before he reaches the capital, when 
then correct leadership will succeed in uniting all forces and 
chance a decision, having a line of retreat open to Madge- 

As the flank operation becomes more effective the far- 
ther upstream it commences, Dresden would be the proper 
point for the concentration of the : 

1st, 2d, 3d, and 4th Infantry Divisions; 
1st and 3d Landwehr Divisions; 
2d Cavalry Division. 

On the other hand, the 1st Cavalry Division would have to 
be brought to Gorlitz to facilitate its reaching the Vlth 

If shortly before breaking out of hostilities our main 
forces move from Dresden to the strong position at Stolpen 
(25 km. east of Dresden), in which operation they would re- 
main protected on the right flank by the impassable Sand- 
stone Mountains, and if at the same time the Gorlitz de- 
tachment is called up to Bautzen, then the possiblity exists 
at the very start of attacking, with all disposable forces, the 
enemy deploying from the Lausitz Mountains. In any 
case we v/ould draw him on our force and into the direction 
of Dresden. All the rest falls into the province of opera- 
tions, which we can touch here only in so far as they demand 
the first position of the fighting forces. 

Concerning now the South German States, we must not 
expect in this nor in any other coalition anything except 
what is to the immediate interest of all parties. 

In a v/ar against Francs alone the direct joining of the 
Bavarian army to the North German fighting force on the 
central Rhine gives the best protection against a French in- 
vasion into Bavarian territory, and if correct military views 
in Munich have the upper hand, this requirement will be 


Moltke's Correspondence 

complied with. We cannot require this, however, when 
Bavaria has to defend its own frontier against Austria. 

We may assume that in that case Bavaria would un- 
doubtedly be able to concentrate 60,000 men on the lower Inn. 
Such a position would assure us the help which we have to 
expect of Bavaria. Being in rear of the hostile concentra- 
tion in Bohemia and Moravia it threatens Vienna in such a 
degree that Austria cannot help but send a force at least 
equally strong against it. Against such a force the Bavarian 
army would hardly be able to permanently protect Munich, 
but it could contain that force until a general decision had 
been reached at Ingolstadt. However, we can not allow the 
Bavarians to take a waiting position in the start at Ingol- 
stadt ; we must demand that they exchange shots at the very 
beginning with Austria. 

Wiirtemberg and Baden are directly threatened by 
France as well as by Austria, and we can expect them to 
join our offensive. 

If we succeed in bringing about an early decision in 
France, then, even if the Austrians have made progress in 
the meantime in Silesia or Brandenburg, the direction of 
our operations would be against them through Wiirttem- 
berg and Bavaria. 

Consequently it is of main importance to take the field 
against France quickly and in superior numbers. 

2. Offensive Against France 

Less complicated than for the defensive against Austria 
is the plan of operations for the offensive against France. 
It consists mainly in seeking out the enemy's main force 
and to attack it where found. 

The only difficulty lies in executing this simple plan 
with very large masses. 

In its mobile stage the French active 

army numbers 336,000 men 

deduct for Algiers 35,000) ^n aaa 

and for Rome 5,000 S " ^^'^^^ ™«" 

Which leaves available 296,000 men. 


Preparations for War 

But as soon as we get ahead of the French offensive, a 
part of these troops will be absolutely necessary for gar- 
risoning Strassburg, Metz, Thionville, Lyons and Paris, 
50,000 men at the lowest estimate. 

If after that, conditions do not require an observation 
corps to be placed at the Pyrenees or on the Channel, we still 
would at the start, meet hardly more than 260,000 men in 
the field. 

The ten North German corps number 330,000 men. 

Of course there are still 93,000 reserves in France. 
The simplest manner to utilize them would be to increase 
the battalions of 800 men up to 1000 men, and this would 
bring the French army in the field to about the same 
strength as that of the North German army. But it ap- 
pears that that is not the intention, but that a special reserve 
army is to be formed, and this pre-supposes new forma- 
tions, and is an additional reason for us to advance quickly. 

We have a reserve of 26,000 men in the already or- 
ganized Guard and 3d Landwehr Divisions, which pre- 
sumably follow in the course of the campaign. 

If we can count with some certainty on 30,000 men of 
the Baden and Wiirtemberg Division, then the proportion, 
at the opening of hostilities, of our forces to the hostile 
fighting forces, will be as 360,000 to 250,000, and later on 
386,000 to 343,000 men.* 

It is self-evident how important it is to fully utilize the 
superiority which we have in the start, and in the North 
German forces alone. 

This superiority will be materially increased at the de- 
cisive point, if the French engage in expeditions against 
the North Sea coast or into Southern Germany. To meet 
the former we have sufficient means without weakening the 
field army, and the latter expedition cannot be dangerous 
to us for the present. ■ 

^Addition in 1870: — "How conditions are now in July, 1870, we 
are justified in assuming that all South German forces will join us, 
that is 60,000 men. In that case we would oppose the 250,000 French 
with 400,000 men and would still have three army corps in reserve." 


Moltke's Correspondence 

The main point is to concentrate our actual superiority 
in such a manner as to enable us to bring it to account at 
the decisive moment and in that the first question is : where 
may we expect to meet the enemy. 

The neutrality of Belgium, Holland and Switzerland 
confine the theater of war to the area between Luxemburg 
and Basle. Should France disregard this neutrality and 
advance through Belgium against the Prussian Rhine, then 
it would have to weaken itself by 80,000 to 100,000 men in 
Brussels and in front of the Belgian army assembled in 
Antwerp, not counting probable difficulties with England. 
A further advance across the Maas could be more effec- 
tively opposed from the direction of the Mosel, than from 
the Rhine. Our Rhine front is so strong that it requires 
no immediate support, and in addition, the distance from 
Brussels to Cologne is greater than from Mayence, Trier 
or Kaiserslautern to Brussels. Our advance from the 
south forces the enemy to make front and to fight with his 
communications in the flank — which are already threatened 
by Belgium. An original concentration of our fighting 
forces south of the Mosel would consequently enable us to 
meet the danger of this invasion on the left bank of the 
Rhine, as well as to get ahead of it by an offensive on 
French ground. Not counting political difficulties with 
England, the violation of Belgium's neutrality offers too 
little hope of success to be probable. 

France would encounter no less diflliculties should it 
attempt to carry out operations through Switzerland to join 
hands with Austria. Capturing and holding this mountain- 
ous country would occupy more than 100,000 men for a 
long time. In addition a direct joint operation of both 
allied armies would be of no interest to each one separ- 
ately; they will have to pursue entirely different objects on 
separate theaters of war in order to finally gain their com- 
bined object — the defeat of the Prussian power. 

We are therefore justified in assuming that the French 
will effect their first concentration on the line Metz — Strass- 
burg in order to advance against the Main, going around 
our strong Rhine front, to separate North and South Ger- 


Preparations for War 

many, to reach an understanding with the latter and, based 
on that, to advance against the Elbe. 

This also will mean a concentration south of the Mosel 
and of all disposable North and South German fighting 
forces in the Bavarian Palatinate as the most suitable 
means to oppose such plans. 

Expectation of easy success might easily induce the 
French to advance with a part of their fighting force from 
Strassburg against Southern Germany. But an operation 
upstream on the flank of this march would prevent any and 
all further advance across the Black Forest and would 
compel the opponent to first gain elbow room against the 
north. If the Baden — Wiirtemberg Corps has joined the 
left wing, then vv^e are in the situation to reinforce it from the 
Palatinate to such an extent that a decision may be sought 
in the vicinity of Rastatt, and should the outcome be for- 
tunate for us, the enemy's retreat would result in anni- 
hilation. To attain that object we can without fear make 
detachments from our main force, as the enemy in front 
will have to be weakened by just as much as he has made 
detachments from his main army for operations on the upper 

Should the South German governments prefer a direct 
defense of their domain by a position behind the Black 
Forest or at Ulm, then we would be relieved of the neces- 
sity of supporting them. We can leave them to their own 
devices, as the march of a French army, extending via 
Stuttgart and Munich, will become effective on our strategic 
flank only, after the important operations against the 
weakened enemy in our front have fallen. 

If the French desire to fully utilize their railroad sys- 
tem for quick concentration of all their fighting forces, they 
will be compelled to detrain in two main groups, at Strass- 
burg and at Metz, separated by the Vosges Mountains. If 
the presumably smaller group at the first point is not as- 
signed against South Germany, then it can join the main 
force on the upper Mosel only by marching. 

In the Palatinate we stand on the inner line of opera- 
tions between both hostile groups. We can turn against 


Moltke's Correspondence 

the one or the other and, provided we are strong enough, 
against both at the same time. The concentration of all our 
forces in the Palatinate protects the lower as well as the 
upper Rhine and allows an offensive into the enemy's country 
which, provided it is made at the correct time, will probably 
get ahead of the French advancing upon German ground. 

The only question remains, if we, without running 
danger of being interfered with in our first concentration, 
can transfer the points of concentration across the Rhine 
into the Palatinate and to the immediate French frontier, 
and this question, according to my opinions, should be 
answered affirmatively. 

Our mobilization is prepared down to the very last 
detail. There are six trunk lines available for transport- 
ing troops to the vicinity between the Mosel and the Rhine. 
The time tables, showing day and hour of starting and 
arrival of each troop unit, are prepared. On the 12th day 
the first detachments can detrain close to the French fron- 
tier; and on the 15th day the fighting troops of two army 
corps will be assembled there. On the 20th day the number 
of our fighting forces will be 300,000 men and on the 
day the armies will have their full complements.* 

*The notes concerning the position in readiness of the fightingr 
forces in this memorial have been changed by the marginal note "For 
1870." It states: for the 12th day, read "10th": for the 15th, "13th"; 
for the 20th, "18th", and for the 24th, "20th" with "nearly all trains." 

These changes apparently are based on the following marginal 
notes in the handwriting of General v. Moltke: 

"According to the preparations for 1870: 


ENS. SQDS. bat's. 

on the 10th mobilization day 8 — — 

up to incl. the 12th mobilization day 30 14 8 

up to incl. the 15th mobilization day 64 75 27 

up to incl. the 17th mobilization day 104 84 48 

up to incl. the 19th mobilization day 104 108 60 

inclusive of the 1st section of trains and columns of all four army 

In the vicinity of Landau there will be concentrated — of the 
Third Army: 
the Xlth A. C. not later than the 13th day of mobilization, 
the Vth A.C. not later than the 18th day of mobilization, 
inclusive of the first section of the trains; 


Preparations for War 

We have no reason at all to suppose that the concen- 
tration of the French army to a mobile footing, for which 
so far they have had no experience, can be made more 
quickly. Since Napoleon Bonaparte's time France has 
known only partial mobilization, in which the part of the 
army taking the field was completed from the part remain- 
ing at home. 

Considering the numerous garrisons and camps in the 
northeastern part of the country, France can of course, on 
account of the excellent railroad system and plentiful roll- 
ing stock, assemble an army of 150,000 men at the frontier in 
a very short time. Such a procedure for a quick initiative 
would correspond with the national character and has been 
discussed in military circles. Assuming such an impro- 
vised army, which would be well supplied with cavalry and 
artillery, were concentrated on the 5th day at Metz and on 
the 8th day crossed the frontier at Saarlouis ; we still could 
start our railroad transportation in time and detrain our 
main force on the Rhine by that time. To that line the in- 
vader would have to cover six marches and would come 
to a standstill there on the 14th day opposite equally strong 
forces. Being in possession of the stream crossings, a few 
days later we would take the offensive in doubly superior 

The disadvantages and dangers of such a procedure 
on the part of France are so apparent that France would 
hardly decide on it, and in any case it will be unable of ex- 
ecution should we ourselves take the initiative. 


of the Fourth Army: mobilization 

25th Div. will reach Gollheim on the 13th 

18th Div. with the troops the same line on the 15th 

so that the IXth Corps, able to commence operations by the ad- 
dition of the trains, etc., of the 25th Div., can after 1 day 

of rest, reach Homburg on the 19th 

the Xllth A. C. (with the 1st sec. of trains, etc.) detrains 

at Mayence by the 16th 

and can be echeloned from Homburg to Kaiserslautern by 

the 19th 

of the First Army: 

the Vllth A. C. can reach Saarburg — Zerf — Trier 18th 

and the Vlllth A. C. can be echeloned from west of Saar- 
louis to Hermeskeil. 
The 1st sections of trains are present with both corps." 


Moltke's Correspondence 

If this shows the correctness of concentrating in the 
Palatinate, objection still may be raised against a concen- 
tration of all disposable fighting forces there and on the 
Mosel, based on an apparent exposure of our Rhine front. 
We have already indicated that that is protected by Bel- 
gium's neutrality and, should that be violated, by distance, 
by its own strength, and by operations. 

A fighting force like the one we place in the field 
against France, can of course operate only if divided into 
several armies. The strength of each of these armies 
should depend on special tasks and the assignment of the 
separate army corps to the armies should be made with due 
regard to having all in readiness in the shortest time. 

Without interfering greatly with the latter point, the 
following organization ought not to be changed : 

1st Army — Vllth and Vlllth Army Corps — as 

right wing around Wittlich 60,000 men 

2d Army— Illd, IVth, Xth and Guard Corps— 

in the center at Neunkirchen — Homburg __ 131,000 men 

3d Army — Vth, Xlth, Baden-Wiirtemberg 

Corps and eventually a Bavarian brig, as 

left wing at Landau and Rastatt 99,000 men 

or, should the two Bavarian Corps join __ 130,000 men 

4th, a Reserve, consisting of the combined IXth 

and Xllth Army Corps in front of Mayence 63,000 men 

Total 353,000 men 

or, under above assumption 384,000 men 

Of course, should we be engaged with France alone, 
then the 1st, lid, and finally the Vlth Corps, 100,000 men, 
can also be drawn up. However, these corps can arrive 
only later on, as the railroads will be fully occupied up to 
the 20th day. On the other hand, the two Bavarian corps 
could immediately join the Third Army, which would bring 
the strength of that army up to 130,000 men and the whole 
force, after three weeks, would be increased to 484,000 

First Army 

To secure the concentration of the Vllth and Vlllth 
Corps on the upper Mosel, it will be correct to not draw 
back the troops garrisoned there, but to leave them as an 


Preparations for War 

advance guard at Trier and Saarbrticken and to reinforce 

The position of the latter place will of course be occu- 
pied for the present by the troops there and the two bat- 
talions and four squadrons in Saarlouis, which will be suffi- 
cient for mere observation and protection of the railroads 
against minor raids by the enemy. Orders will be issued 
by higher authority for successive destruction of the rail- 
road and that for that purpose a railroad detachment will 
be attached to the detachment there. If at all Dossible. the 
detachment will not retire beyond Neunkirchen, and will 
either be reinforced or relieved on the twelfth day by 
strong detachments of the Hid Army Corps. Thereupon 
it will return to its corps. 

On the other hand, the garrison at Trier — four battal- 
ions, four squadrons and one battery (which latter is to be 
immediately sent from Coblenz) — forms a body of troops 
which is not so directly threatened by the enemy and, very 
favorably supported by the terrain, must hold itself at Trier, 
Schweich or a least at Wittlich. On the fourteenth day de- 
tachments will arrive there for permanent support, by the 
sixteenth the entire Vlllth Corps (exclusive of the 33d Regi- 
ment) will reach there, and by the seventeenth the Vllth 
Corps (exclusive of trains) and then 50 battalions, 32 squad- 
rons, 30 batteries will be ready for battle and able to start 
on the twentieth day entirely mobile in any desired direction. 

Second Army 

The troops at Saarbrticken and eventually at Neun- 
kirchen will keep us informed how far the Palatinate rail- 
roads may be used with security. On these roads the first 
detachments of the Illd and IVth Army Corps will arrive 
by the twelfth day. After both corps have their full comple- 
ment of troops by the fifteenth day, they will take position 
near the frontier (near Bildstock and St. Ingbert), behind 
which the Xth and the Guard Corps will detrain, and thus 
104 battalions, 108 squadrons, 60 batteries will be assembled 
around Homburg by the nineteenth day. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Third Army 

The position of the Bavarian brigade at Landau will 
be reinforced on the fifteenth or sixteenth day by the ar- 
rival of the infantry divisions of the Vth Corps. By the 
eighteenth the largest part of the Xlth Corps — mainly by 
marching — will be assembled and there will be in a strong 
position behind the Kling creek 50 battalions, 40 squadrons, 
30 JDatteries of Prussian combatants alone, which will be 
able to extend help to the Baden — Wiirttemberg Corps be- 
tween Rastatt and Karlsruhe, if the French should have 
crossed the upper Rhine, or, should this not be the case, that 
corps will be closed in on the Xlth Corps. 

Should a French army have already crossed the Rhine 
and be marching on Stuttgart, the Third Army will concen- 
trate on the line Pforzheim — Calw in two marches, and the 
Reserve Army would then form the left wing echelon of the 
offensive towards the west. 

The Reserve 

Of the Reserve the IXth Corps (formed by the 18th 
Division and the Hessian Division to be assembled at Kirch- 
heimbolanden) and the Xllth Corps — 52 battalions, 40 
squadrons, 31 batteries — will be assembled on the other side 
of Mayence by the twentieth day. At present it seems im- 
probable that the French will have attacked our farthest 
advanced Second Army with superior numbers prior to that 

If France concentrates its entire force against that 
army, if the Second Army has to fall back on the Reserve 
Army, then we would be in a good situation after the twen- 
tieth day to accept battle with 200,000 men in an exceed- 
ingly favorable position at Mannheim. Should that be the 
case, the French could not start any other large operation 
against the upper Rhine or the lower Mosel, and it would 
be entirely correct to reinforce our main force with the 
Third Army, and to direct the First Army across the Nahe 
to the flank and rear of the hostile advance. With only 
moderately good leadership 300,000 men would be concen- 
trated for the decision. 


Preparations for War 

If, on the other hand, the Second Army holds its 
ground on the frontier, as we may assume with some prob- 
ability will be the case, reinforcements will reach it in 
time from the reserve, while the First and Third Army 
secure the flanks, and thus the offensive might be taken into 
the enemy's country at once. 

Should we still be in ignorance by then as to the point 
of assembly of the main forces of the enemy, there are four 
cavalry divisions of seventy-six squadrons each at hand, 
which, supported by infantry, should furnish us the desired 

3. Coast Defense 

For the defense of our coasts and for simultaneous 
observation of Denmark, four divisions are detailed, be- 
sides the garrisons of the fortified places, especially that of 
Sonderburg, viz. : 

one Guard Landwehr division, 
two Landwehr divisions, 
the 17th Infantry Division. 

There are local garrisons of about 8,000 men on the 
stretch of coast from Emden to Bremerhaven and the 2d 
Landwehr Division, a total of 10,800 men, should be sta- 
tioned at Bremen for active support. 

To protect the Elbe and the coast of Schleswig-Holstein, 
as well as the stretch from Hamburg to Liibeck, there are 
assigned as local garrisons 17,750 men, and furthermore 
the mobile 17th Infantry Division, 15,000 men, which latter 
should be concentrated around Hamburg. 

The Guard Landwher Division, 11,000 men, should be 
stationed as a general reserve at Hanover, in consideration 
of the existing railroad net. 

The 1st Landwehr Division remains disposable for 
defense of the less endangered Baltic Sea coast of Pomerania 
and Prussia. 

It appears justifiable to draw off the 17th Infantry 
Division from Schleswig, as it can quickly be returned by 
rail in case of need, and especially because it seems im- 
probable that Denmark will decide at the start of the cam- 
paign to be hostile. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

A French landing, if at all intended, will undoubtedly be 
made in the very first stages of the war. As soon as we 
have entered French ground such far-reaching expeditions 
will logically have to be abandoned. 

Furthermore, the French fleet will hardly undertake 
an invasion of the Baltic Sea. The route around Skagen 
could hardly be kept concealed and we would have ample 
time to follow it with our fighting forces via the railroads. 

Far more probable appears a debarkation on the North 
Sea coast or at some Jutland port, in order to at least gain 
a land base for such a hazardous undertaking, and in order 
to finally unite with the Danish reinforcements. 

After what has been stated above, we could very soon 
oppose to such an expedition 40,000 men of our field troops, 
reinforcement for which does not need to bother us, because 
there will be sufficient troops left in the country which up 
to then could not be transported to the theater of war, and 
which are not absolutely required at the frontier on ac- 
count of the weakness of the French main army. 

In the further course of the campaign presumably the 
two above mentioned Landwehr divisions can be spared 
and be put at the disposal of the army, or they can be used 
for guarding the line of communications. 

Concerning the presumable strength of the French army, General 
von Moltke made the following notes, which bear no date, but may be 
assumed to have been made during the winter of 1869-1870. 

NO. 19 

If the entire cadres of the French army are filled to 
their war strength there would be — 

370 battalions 259,000 men 

62 cavalry regiments 31,000 men 

164 batteries 25,000 men 

Engineers 8,000 men 

Combatants proper 323,000 men. 


Preparations for War 

This total does not include 12,000 men of artillery trains 
and baggage trains nor 65,000 reserves required at the de- 
pots which in time of peace are guarded by cadres only. 
These numbers are offset by our own train and recruit bat- 

If we deduct only 10,000 troops of the line for Algiers, 
and 15,000 only for Paris, Lyons, Strassburg and Metz — 
the National Guards taking over the service of all other 
places — it will leave an army of operations of hardly 300,000 

There is no reason to suppose that the mobilization of 
the French army will be completed any sooner than that of 
the Prussian. On the other hand, the more complete French 
railroad net will enable France to have the largest part of 
all their available fighting forces at the initial concentra- 
tion points near our frontier at a time when we reach the 
Rhine with but a part of our fighting force. 

If the French desire to fully utilize their railroads, 
they will have to detrain one part of their fighting force 
east, the other (main) part west of the Vosges mountains. 

If the Army Detachment concentrated in the Rhine 
valley is to gain a political or military objective, it must be 
at least 50,000 strong. This will leave 250,000 men at most 
opposite the line Luxemburg — Weissenburg. 

We are justified in assuming that these concentrations 
can be completed after the course of three weeks. 

For the information of the Chiefs of Sections of the Great Gen- 
eral Staff General von Moltke composed the following memorandum in 
the spring of 1870, in which he explained his views as to the execution 
of the advance of the army against the Mosel line. Note than in the 
attached march table cognizance is taken of only the North German 
fighting forces. 

NO. 20 

Berlin, 6 May, 1870. 

The operation against France will consist simply in our 
advancing, closed up as much as possible, a few marches into 


Moltke's Correspondence 

French territory until we meet the French army, then to 
give battle. 

The general direction of this advance is Paris, because 
in that direction we are most certain to find our objective 
— the hostile army. 

On the direct road from the Palatinate to Paris is 
Metz. This place will be turned by the left and will be 
observed only. 

The next strategic advance, if a battle does not ensue 
sooner, is the line of the Mosel, Luneville — Pont-a-Mousson. 

In this advance, the Second Army will be in the first 
line, the Fourth in the second, and the flanks will be cov- 
ered by the First and Third Armies. Our initiative will lay 
down the law to the opponent. 

On the line Luneville — Pont-a-Mousson, we have two 
railroads in our rear; there, if not sooner, a decisive battle 
must ensue and beyond this we can arrange no details. 

Not counting the resistance which we may encounter 
sooner, this advance of 60 [English] miles finds its main 
difficulty in the limited area in which large masses have to 
advance. If the French advance to meet us in correspond- 
ing strength, that difficulty will be common to both sides. 
It is different if they await us assembled or advance to 
meet us deployed for battle. 

To enable us to deploy for battle we need a whole day, 
which the advance guard must secure to the army. We can 
learn where we are likely to meet the enemy only through 
the advance guard. Therefore it must be strong, and es- 
pecially so in cavalry. 

The advance guard will be formed of the 5th Infantry 
Division and one cavalry corps. For the latter there are 
76 squadrons of the 3d, 4th and 10th and the Guard Cavalry 
Divisions available under a commander to be specially se- 
lected. The 6th Division follows as support. 

Differing from seeking a decision in battle, the cavalry 
is not to be kept closed up, but it will advance in differ- 
ent directions by divisions and these latter will send out 
detachments until the main concentration point of the en- 
emy has been ascertained. The infantry division can sup- 


Preparations for War 

port these smaller detachments, using wagons, but on the 
whole it will remain in close order so as to afford a rallying 
point in strong positions to the cavalry. 

The cavalry can advance several marches ahead of the 
infantry ; its strength secures its return. 

The larger infantry detachments must avoid each and 
every movement to the rear. It is advisable to make all as- 
semblies towards the front. The 5th Division is protected 
by the cavalry from the danger of encountering a concen- 
trated hostile force; in connection with that division, it 
can hold out against a hostile corps for 24 hours. It must 
precede the army by a whole march. 

It is true that the Second Army will be concentrated on 
the 19th day at the frontier (Bildstock — St. Ingbert), but 
it will have no train as yet. In addition the Fourth Army 
will have to be drawn up. The first echelons arriving of 
the latter can be started successively in the direction of 
Zweibriicken, but the last will require four days to close 
up, and the complete concentration behind the Second Army 
may take until the 24th day. 

It does not appear advisable to cross the frontier sooner 
than we are ready to accept battle. 

Under existing conditions it will be necessary for Royal 
Headquarters to regulate the marches of all corps and di- 

It will be possible to make the march as far as the 
Mosel with the Second and Fourth Army in three main 
columns and in two echelons on a breadth and depth of 
one march, so that the assembly of 150,000 men towards 
the center and even towards a wing of the first line can be 
made in one march. 

All corps will be immediately followed by their trains ; 
the latter will halt (parking alongside the roads) only 
when the advance guard reports the proximity of the enemy. 

The length of a march should be 10 [English] miles; 
the start to be made early every morning. 

The IVth and Xth Corps will have independent advance 


Moltke's Correspondence 

As the cavalry divisions of the Second Army are in 
front, the marching depth of the infantry divisions of that 
army will be six hours. Therefore the Fourth Army will 
come in contact at noon with the trains of the Second Army, 
which should not prevent it going into bivouac, even if, 
when necessary, the march is to be continued in the after- 

According to the political situation it is not probable 
that the First Army will encounter resistance in its ad- 
vance to join the right wing of the Second Army. 

On the other hand, it is very possible that the Third 
Army will have to be reinforced by the Fourth Army at the 
start. If this is done in a large measure, the residue of the 
Fourth Army will follow the advance of the First and Sec- 
ond Army. 

Should the French have concentrated their main force 
opposite our front, the Third Army will join the general 
advance against the Mosel, but sight must not be lost of 
the possibility that we may have to front towards the south. 

Concerning the concentration of all or at least the larger 
part of our fighting forces, that matter will be governed 
each day by general orders. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

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-189 — 


Operations from July 18 to September 2, 1870 

Translations as follows: 

Nos. 21 to 93, by Colonel Conrad H. Lanza, Field Artillery. 
Nos. 94 to 248, by Mr. Harry Bell. 

No. 21 

Autograph pencil note by General von Moltke on a report of Ma- 
jor Count von Waldersee* dated July 12, 1870. 

Not dated (apparently written between July 13-15, 1870). 

The transports appear to be intended for the transportation of 
troops coming from Algiers, and possibly from Civita Vecchia. The 
armoured vessels mentioned cannot have a landing in view, but are 
more likely to bombard our sea ports. 

It is not therefore necessary to call out the Landwehr for coast 
defense, but instead to arm the coast batteries. 

Kiel only is now well fortified. 

No. 22 

To Colonel v. WixzENDORFF.f 


Berlin, July 16, 1870. 

With reference to the telegram, regarding a possible destruction 
of railroads, which Your Honor should have received this night, I wish 
to state that it is still the intention to concentrate the army on the 
French frontier in order to take the offensive, and we therefore need 
the railroads ourselves. 

It is only if the French advance without mobilizing that they 
can get a start on us. It is asserted that this is their intention, in 
which case the destruction ordered must not be delayed. 

In case of such a strategical surprise the main thing is to delay 
the advance of the enemy from the border towards the Rhine, until 
we have sufficient forces concentrated to advance ourselves. Here- 

*Major Count von Waldersee, Aide-de-camp to his Majesty the 
King of Prussia and attached to the Prussian embassy in Paris had 
reported activity in French naval ports. 

tChief of Staff, Vlllth Corps. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

after no destruction will be undertaken, which cannot be promptly re- 
stored; but we should proceed to a series of repeated small interrup- 
tions only if superior hostile forces force us to evacuate Sarrebruck. 
This at first will be on the line Sarrebruck — Neunkirchen, and also if 
possible in rear of Sarreguemines. 

The commanding General of the Xth Army Corps, General of In- 
fantry V. Voigts-Rhetz, had asked from the war ministry for authority 
to take preparatory measures for the employment of the Landstrum 
on the threatened coasts of his districts. The Minister of War for- 
warded this request to General von Moltke for remarks, stating that 
as far as he was concerned he was opposed to such a step. General 
V. Moltke answered this communication as follows: 

No. 23 

To THE War Department. 

Berlin, July 18, 1870. 

I have the honor to reply that as far as I am concerned the atten- 
tion of General Voigts-Rhetz should be invited to the prospective nom- 
ination of Governor-General, who will attend to all necessary matters. 

If it becomes indispensable to protect the coasts before the or- 
ganization of important forces, which are to be provided for this 
purpose, the General commanding must use nearest available forces, 
even if they are not yet mobilized. 

I no longer consider the calling out of the Landstrum as advisa- 
ble. It would be of no advantage and would only give pretext for agi- 

The War Department had asked the following questions of the 
Chief of the General Staff: "Must the Austrian front be regarded as 
threatened; or may a part of the garrison troops which were assigned 
to this front according to the plan of occupation be withdrawn for ser- 
vice on the L of C? Can the 23d Infantry be used for the field army?" 
General von Moltke answered: 

No. 24 

To THE War Department. 

Berlin, July 18, 1870. 

The Austrian front is up to the present time not threatened. My 
honest opinion is to avoid in the frontier provinces all measures likely 
to lead to demonstrations. 

For this reason it is also intended to echelon the Vlth Army Corps 
now in lower Silesia along the railway lines. 

The part employment of garrison troops elsewhere, and the as- 
signment of the 23d Infantry to the field army are for this reason 
considered for the present inadvisable. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 25 

Note by General von Moltke. 

Berlin; July 18, 1870. 

The Wurtemberg troops will have completed their mobilization 
by the 26th of this month. They march off successively behind the 
Baden troops, to whose help they will send two cavalry regiments 
to Rastatt. They request a Prussian General as division commander; 
a Prussian General-Staff officer; General von Prittwitz as Governeur 
for Ulm; and for a consolidation with a Prussian Division into a 

The Bavarians by the 25th of the month have a division ready for 
the field at Landau, although not completely mobilized; not until the 
22d, mobilization day (7 August) will their two corps be complete 
on the Haardt. 

The trains will not be complete until 27th day. (12 August.) They 
ask for direct orders from his Majesty; these previously have been 
sent through Major von Fryberg to the Bavarian Minister of War, v. 
Pranckh; but hereafter they will be sent direct to the Commanders 
of the two corps, (v der Tann and von Hartmann.) 

. No. 26 

To Lt. General von Frankenberg* 

Berlin; Juhj 18, 1870. 

I have the honor to inform Your Excellency, that it has come to 
my knowledge, that a few commanders have taken the question of 
the destruction of various railroad lines, in a manner absolutely con- 
trary to existing conditions. 

I believe it my duty to remark that the continued use of the 
railroads is absolutely necessary for the safe and quick concentration 
of the army. Unjustified destruction of particular tracks is for this 
reason inadvisable and dangerous. 

Should an invasion by important hostile forces make a partial 
destruction necessary, it should consist only in the removal of rails, 
etc. Generally speaking, it must be possible to easily repair the 
railroads in order to assist the offensive which Prussia has in view. 

No commander of troops or commandant of a fort is authorized 
to destroy bridges or other works without directions from superior 
authority. Only if the enemy approaches a fortified place with con- 
siderable forces within a day's march, is the commander authorized 
within the limits of his command, to proceed with destructions abso- 
lutely necessary for the defense. 

* Commandant of Cologne. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

No. 27 

To Major von Grolman."^ 

Berlin; July 18, 1870. 

In reply to your Honor's telegram of today, I beg you to advise 
Major General Freiherr von Pranckh, as follows: 

I. It is assumed that the holding of Landau and Germersheim as 
also of the bridge of Maxau will be done at first by Royal Bavarian 
troops. The protection of the Palatinate, as well as all German ter- 
ritory is the common task of the German armies, whose early arri- 
val is hoped for. But so far as it can be estimated at present, the 
detail of troops from Bavaria most directly interested will unfortun- 
ately not arrive until after Prussian troops coming from the province 

II. The two Bavarian army corps will be put under direct orders 
of his Royal Highness, the Crown Prince of Prussia. 

III. No order as to whether our infantry will leave in helmets or 
in caps has yet been issued. The first headgear mentioned is more 
probable, however, according to my opinion the Royal Bavarian infan- 
try are not in any way bound to a like procedure. 

IV. According to the intentions of his Majesty, the King, which 
are known to me, nobody should be sent to G.H.Q. whose presence is 
not necessary for official reasons. 

It would be therefore advisable to attach Major General Count 
Bothmer to the Army Headquarters of his Royal Highness, the Crown 
Prince of Prussia. 

No. 28 

To Lt. Colonel von LESzczYNSKLf 

Berlin, July 18, 1870, evening. 

A number of ships of small draught equipped with one gun have 
been sent from Toulon to Strassburg. They might be intended to 
damage or destroy the permanent crossings over the Rhine. 

Your Honor has already designated a place in the river not far 
from Rastatt, where a dam could be erected, covered by artillery fire. 
If this has not already been done, it is now time to do it. 

I have issued orders that a Navy officer leave tomorrow morning 
for Rastatt, to assist in this work; from there he will go to Ger- 
mersheim for the same purpose.! Please advise the commander of 

I have just received a report from Speyer via Munich, that not a 
single Frenchman can be seen on the frontier. It, however, states: 
"Bridge by Maxau about to be destroyed." I presume that this is 
an error, as a Baden battalion is stationed beyond the bridge near 

^Prussian military attache in Munich and attached to the General 
Staff of the army. 

tChief of Staff of the Baden Division. 

JThe Royal Bavarian War Department, and the Commandant at 
Germersheim were notified accordingly. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Hagenbach, and it would never be advisable to intercept so important 
a communication. 

The Emperor will leave Paris in a few days. 20,000 men from 
Algiers are expected on Friday at Toulon. Count Waldersee* is of 
the opinion that decisive operations are hardly to be expected before 
the 24th. 

On July 18, 1870 General von Moltke received the following cabi- 
net orders: 

Berlin, July 18, 1870. 

I send you enclosed a copy of my order, which was forwarded to- 
day to the Minister of War, directing that effective the 5th day of 
mobilization, my orders as to the movements and operations of the 
Army of the Confederation of the North and its separate detachments 
shall be transmitted to the proper commanders through the Chief of 
the General Staff of the Army. You will at all times keep the Min- 
ister of War informed as to all measures taken by you. 

(Signed) Wilhelm. 

No. 29 

To Colonel von Witzendorff. 


Berlin, July 19, 1870. 

According to a report from Count Waldersee no severe hostilities 
are to be expected from the French before the 24th of this month. 
To complete the time and march tables of the Vlllth Army Corps, 
which have already been sent to your General Staff I remark, you 
are advised that the Vllth Army Corps will be transported by rail 
between the 9th to the 11th mobilization day to Call, Stolberg, Aachen, 
thence by marching towards the territory of Trier, where the heads 
of columns should arrive on the 16th, and the tails of columns on the 
18th mobilization day. The marches marked in pencil on the time 
and march tables of the two army corps, have been arranged to agree 
with one another. 

The Illd and then the Xth Army Corps will be brought up by the 
line Coin, Coblenz, Bingen, Neunkirchen and will detrain at the latter 

On the 10th mobilization day with 8 Battalions Squadrons Batteries 

On the 11th mobilization day 

On the 12th mobilization day 

On the 13th mobilization day 

On the 14th mobilization day 

On the 15th mobilization day 

On the 16th mobilization day 

with 11 Battalions 


with 2 Battalions 



with 2 Battalions 



with 2 Battalions 


with 6 Battalions 



with 9 Battalions 



*See Document No. 21. 


Operatigns July 18 to September 2, 1870 
No. 30 

Berlin, July 19, 1870. 

If the French intend to await the arrival of their reserves, before 
they start operations, they would not have declared war today. 

It is therefore probable, that they will cross the border tomor- 
row, on our 5th mobilization day. 

As their forces are without reserves, it is possible that they will 
abandon completely any idea of invasion of South Germany (they are 
now advised as to the sentiment of these states) and will invade the 
Palatinate on the front Saarbruecken — Bitsch. 

They can reach a position near Marnheim on the 10th mobiliza- 
tion day, and attack on the 11th mobilization day. 

On that date we can concentrate only about half of the Illd, IVth 
and Xlth Corps and the 25th Division, say about 60,000 men with in- 
sufficient artillery. 

For this reason we cannot for the present take Marnheim as 
assembly point for the army; it is more probable that the French if 
they advance in a determined manner, will arrive before Maince on 
the 12th day. 

There would be there assembled on the following day: 

The Illd, IVth and IXth Army Corps— 100,000 men. 

On the same date at Germersheim, Xlth Army Corps, the Baden 
Division, and a part of the Wurtemberg Division — 50,000 men. If the 
French do not debouch from Strassburg on the right bank of the 
Rhine the Xlth corps would be directed towards Maince. 

On the 17th mobilization daywith 9 Battalions 1^ Squadrons 5 Batteries 
On the 18th mobilization daywith _ Battalions 41 5 

On the 19th mobilization daywith 1 Battalion __ 3 

On the 20th mobilization daywith 3 Battalions 
On the 21st mobilization daywith 1 Battalion __ 2 

Should the border be crossed earlier by considerable French forces 
during the concentration, the detraining will be effected at a point 
situated farther to the rear. 

Your Honor will readily see from the above mentioned facts, how 
it is of extreme importance, that the command of the detachment of 
Saarbruecken be entrusted only to a cool and intelligent officer. 

I will further state that two fortress Pioneer companies of the 
Illd Army Corps should arrive in the forenoon of the 9th mobilization 
day at Neunkirchen, and two of the IVth Army Corps at Homburg. 
These organizations are to assist in detraining operations and are 
placed at the disposition of Captains Mantey and von Huene of the 
General Staff who have been sent to the places mentioned. The de- 
tachment at Saarbruecken will keep in liaison with the above named 
officers, and will protect their operations by cavalry patrol.* 

*At the same time information was sent to Colonel von Hertz- 
berg, Chief of Staff of the Vllth Corps, that the Vlllth Corps would 
assemble by marching in the vicinity of Saarlouis, and that its last 
elements should arrive there on the 19th mobilization day. 


Moltke's Correspondence. 

No. 31 

If we receive intelligence within the next few days, that the 
French troops are marching off from their peace stations waiting only 
for their men on furlough, but not for their reserves, it will indicate 
an intention on their part of surprising us strategically. 

The interference which would then result in mobilizing a part 
of the 16th Division cannot be a goal which could justify such a 
measure. The garrisons at Trier and Saarbruecken would have to 
withdraw their depots toward Coblenz; the District H. Q. Staffs would 
have to evacuate their depots and call out the men of the Landwehr. 
Such a hostile measure will have no influence over the mobilization of 
our army and over the transport of the corps to the Rhine, but it will 
influence its strategical deployment. 

We could just as little prevent an incipient invasion of the terri- 
tory on the left bank of the Rhine, as the French can prevent the 
garrison of Saarlouis marching against Metz on the first mobilization 

In the very start we will have an army of weak, but numerous 
battalions, filled very completely with officer and non-commissioned 
officers, fully equipped with cavalry and artillery and with a strength 
of presumably 130,000 to 150,000 combatants. 

If our mobilization takes place immediately, the 8th day would be 
considered as the one on which this army by ixsing all railroads can 
be brought to the frontier; from there on, 7 to 8 marches will be needed 
to reach the Rhine. 

If the French are in a position in the course of these 8 days to 
clothe, arm and transport their reserves, which are without doubt or- 
dered out at the same time as order for the departure of the active 
toops, their first deployment might take place near the left bank of 
the Rhine instead of on the line Metz — Strassburg. 

All this shows how important the occupation of Landau would be 
for us in the presumed case and the carrying out of numerous inter- 
ruption on the Nahe Railroad as well as on the Ludwigsbahn. This 
brings up the question of the need of utilizing the last days before 
arrival of the French reinforcements, to deliver the first battle. 

We need for that five army corps, which must be available on 
the 16th mobilization day at the latest. 

No. 32 

Start of operations on July 25 

Only a part of the troops at Belfort and Colmar can be brought 
to Strassburg. 

1st Corps, and Douay's Division about 35,000 men. 

25th Drusenheim. 

26th Rhine crossing. 

27th Cos. 

28th Fight with Baden troops.' 

29th Ettlingen. 

In Germersheim will be the Xlth Corps 30,000 men 

On the 27th ready for action, 

28th Karlsruhe. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

29th Ettlingen, to cover the debouch- 
ment of the Baden troops 

from the mountains 15,000 men. 

Wurtemberg troops coming from Dur- 

lach 20,000 men. 

65,000 men. 

French XI Corps V Corps Baden and Wtir- 

temberg troops 

25. Hagenau, Birschweiler. 

26. Sulz, Selz. Landau Maxau. (Blow up 

27. Winden, Maxau. bridge.) 

28. Landau, Germersheim. 

If the 5th Corps (Failly) be brought up from Bitsch. 

25. Bitsch. 

26. Pirmasens. 

27. Annweiler. 

28. Landau. 

85,000 Germans against 55,000 French. 
Everything will be surer if the operations do not commence un- 
til the 26th. 

No. 33 

On the 13th mobilization day, July 28: 

Illd Corps: between Bingen and Mainz. 

Advance Guard: Kreuznach. 
IVth Corps: 

Advance Guard: Duerkheim. 
IXth Corps, 18th Division: Maince. 

25th Division: Worms. 
Xlth Corps: Near Landau. 

On the 14th mobilization day, July 29th, there can be concentrated 
near Alzey: 

Illd and IVth Corps 65,000 men. 

Near Neustadt or Duerkheim: 

IVth and Xlth Corps 60,000 men. 

Or if necessary: 

Behind Maince: the Hid Corps and the 18th 

Division 50,000 men. 

Near Germersheim: 25th Division 15,000 men. 

Near Worms: IVth Corps 30,000 men. 

Near Mannheim: Xlth Corps 30,000 men. 

Near Rastatt, Speyer; Baden and Wurtem- 
berg troops 30,000 men. 

On the 18th mobilization day, August 2, possibly: 
Second Army and Reserve: 

Illd Corps: Kreuznach. 

IXth Corps: Alzey. 
Xth and Xllth Corps: Mainz. 
Guard Corps: Mainz. 

IVth Corps: Gruenstadt. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

In all beyond Mainz 180,000 men. 

Vth and Xlth Corps: Landau, Germersheim 60,000 men. 

Baden and Wurtemberg troops at Mazau 30,000 men. 

Total 270,000 men. 

Vlllth Corps on the Nahe 30,000 men. 

Vllth Corps approaching Total 300,000 men. 

No. 34 

Without counting Bavarians. 
Vllth Corps en route. 
Eleven North German and one South German 

army corps, consisting of 380,000 men. 

In complete readiness for action, will be on the farther side of 
the Rhine in 21 days (July 16 to August 5). 

We can meet a hostile attack w^ith sufficient forces: 
(a) On the upper Rhine after July 29: 

(1) On the right bank, 

Xlth Corps, Baden and Wurtemberg 

troops 55,000 Infantry. 

against 45,000 Infantry. 

(2) On the left bank, 

Xlth and Vth Corps, and a part of the 

Baden and Wurtemberg troops 62,000 Infantry. 

(b) In the Palatinate beyond Mainz after August 1: 
Illd, IVth, Xlth, Guard, IXth and 

Xllth Corps 140,000 Infantry. 

And if the Vlllth and Vth Corps 

join 200,000 Infantry. 

against 136,000 Infantry. 

(c) On the Mosel, tow^ards Wittlich on August 1: 

Vllth Corps 26,000 Infantry. 

And eventualy the Vlllth Corps 50,000 Infantry. 

Consequently, if the French advance by Saarbruecken and on the 
left bank of the upper Rhine, the Vlllth army corps must be directed 
from Kirchbach where it can arrive on August 2 to Kreuznach, in or- 
der to obtain a desirable numerical superiority. If on the contrary 
the French advance on the right bank of the river, the Vllth and 
Vlllth Corps could continue their march toward Saarlouis, etc. 

All the above mentioned corps will be provided by the evening of 
August 3, with the first echelon of their trains, and will conse- 
quently be ready to commence operations. 

The corps, which were so equipped prior to this date, can for 
this reason continue their march forward as a first line. 

No. 35 

The French may commence their offensive on July 25: 

In the Palatinate. 
It seems, that the 3d Corps, Bazaine — 26,000 Infantry, is already 
brought up toward Bolchen in line with the 2d Corps, Frossard:— 
19,500 Infantry. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

The 4th Corps, Ladmirault, can then only march either against 
Trier, or in second line towards the Palatinate. 

First line 

65,000 Infantry. 

3d Corps 2d Corps 

5fh Corps 


South of Saarlouis Saarbrucken 



Sulzbach Blieskastel 



St. Wendel Landstuhl 



Kusel Kaiserslautern 



Wolfstein Winnweiler 



West of Doners- East of Donersburg 


Six marches without rest days; also the arrival of the second 
line must be awaited. 

6th Corps, Canrobiert, 19,500 

Guard Corps, Bourbaki, 13,000 

—32,500 Infantry. 

Total 97,500 Infantry. 

(Ladmirault 20,000 men, will be contained by the Vllth Army 
Corps.) The attack on a position in the vicinity of Alzey or Marn- 
heim can for this reason not take place before August 1. 

By that time we can dispose of the Second 

Army 130,000 men. 

two reserve corps 60,000 men. 

190,000 men. 

And if the French advance march takes place on the right river 
bank, the Vth army corps can also be brought up in three 
marches 30,000 men. 

220,000 men. 
Deduct s for Cavalry and Artillery 44,000 men. 

176,000 Infantry. 

The French start operations on July 25. 

Only with great difficulty can the division of Douay at Comar 
and Belfort be brought up to Strassburg to reenforce the 1st Corps, 
McMahon, and thereby bring it up to 36,000 Infantry. 

25 July, Drusenheim. 

26 July, Rhine crossing. 

27 July, Oos. 

28 July, Fight with Badea troops. 

Our Xlth Corps will be at Germersheim ready for action after 
the 27th 30,000 men. 

27. a Germersheim. 

28. Karlsruhe. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

29. At Ettlingen, with Wurtemberg troops 20,000 men to secure 
the debouchment of the Baden troops from the mountains 

15,000 men. 

65,000 men. 

Deduct for Cavalry and Artillery about 13,000 men. 

52,000 men Infantry. 
Or on the left bank of the Rhine. 


25 July: Hagenau, Bischweiler XI Corps V Corps Baden and 


26 July: Sulz Selz. Maxau (blow 

up bridge) 

27 July:Winden Maxau. Landau Germers- Germers- 

heim heim 

Position behind the Klingbach 

28 July: Battle. 36,000 men against (95,000 men, deduct Cavalry 
and Artillery 20,000 men) 75,000 Infantry. 

If the 5th Corps, Failly be brought up from Saargemuend. 

25. Bitsch 

26. Pirmasens. 

27. Annweiler. 

28. Landau. 

In this case there will be 55,000 French against 75,000 Germans; 
this case is not probable, as the army in the Palatinate is already too 

The 5th Rhine Dragoon regiment should be advanced to the vi- 
cinity of Kaiserslautern, for the observation of the frontier between 
the detachment at Saarbruecken, and a Royal Bavarian brigade sta- 
tioned at Speyer, and also for the protection of the railroad line Lud- 
wigshafen — Homburg. For this purpose the following order was 

No. 36 

To THE Rhone Dragoon Regiment, 

To the 5th Rhine Dragoon regiment, Mainz.* 

The regiment will reach Alzey on the 22d, Winnweiler and vicinity 
on the 23d, Kaiserslautern on the 24th of this month, it will observe 
the Bavarian — French frontier, connecting on the right with the 7th 
Rhine Ulan regiment (now at Saarbruecken) and on the left with 
the Royal Bavarian brigade (now at Speyer) which is under command 
of Major General Maillinger. 

*To the governor of Mainz for information and transmission; 
copy to CG Xlth Corps at Cassel; for information of the 21st Divi- 
sion at Francfort. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

Maintain liaison to both flanlis, and especially protect the railroad 
Ludwigshafen — Homburg against attempts at interruptions by weak 
hostile detachments. Captain v. Huene of the General Staff is in 
command of the above mentioned railroad line. 

Two fortress Pioneer companies from Ludwigshafen should ar- 
rive with him at Homburg on the forenoon of July 24. 

Important reports should always be telegraphed directly to me, 
and to the governor at Mainz. 

Should the regiment be pushed back by superior forces, it will 
retire on Mainz. 

Captain v. Huene is in charge of railway destructions. 

Only if the officer is not to be present, may slight destructions 
through removing of rails and switches be undertaken, and wherever 
possible this will be done under the supervision of a technical man. 

Major General Maillinger and the Commander of the 7th Rhine 
Ulan regiment has been informed of the mission of the regiment. 

No. 37 

To Lt. Colonel von Pestel. 

Berlin, July 20, 1870, 8:00 P.M. 

Try with a small detachment sent from Saarbruecken, to destroy 
thoroughly the railroad Saargemund — Hagenau. Ask the railroad 
administration for technical assistance. 

No. 38 



Berlin, July 20-21, 1870, midnight. 

Two companies will be sent immediately and if possible by rail 
from Brelin to Geestemuende on account of the nearness of hostile 

No. 39 

To THE Governor of Mainz. 

Berlin, July 21, 1870. 

Referring to your telegram of yesterday, I have the honor to 
advise the Royal government that it is urgently desirable to build 
quickly a permanent floating bridge, instead of the flying bridge at 

♦Commander of the 7th Rhine Ulan regiment; at the same time 
in command of frontier guard at Saarbruecken. 

tThe corps headquarters of the IX army corps and the war min- 
istry were also notified. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Petersau. The material of the bridge at Worms is not available for 
this purpose, as it is in our interest to maintain this bridge intact as 
long as possible. 

In view of the important facilities, which the river navigation 
offers, it will be very easy for the Royal government to establish a 
new floating bridge, utilizing if necessary the assistance of civil engi- 
neers and mechanics. 

The point of cost is insignificant. 

No. 40 

To THE Commanding General, Third Army. 

Berlin, July 21, 1870. 

I have the honor to advise the Royal Army Headquarters as to 
the positions, etc., of the troops under its command, as follows: 

The Royal Prussian Vth and Xlth Army Corps are in process of 
mobilization, and will be moved in accordance with the time and 
march tables which have been transmitted to their respective com- 

The Vth Army Corps will be brought to Landau by rail via Leip- 
zig — Hof — Mainz and detrains there from the 12th to the 18th 
mobilization day inclusive. 

The Xlth Army Corps will reach the line Germersheim — Landau, 
partly by rail via Fulda — Aschaffenburg — -Mainz and partly on foot, 
between the 10th and 13th mobilization days inclusive. The greater 
part of the troops of this corps will be assembled by the evening of the 
10th mobilization day. Only the 5th Rhine Dragoon regiment arrives 
at Maince today, and marches from there on the 22d of this month 
to Alzey, on the 23d to the vicinity of Winnweiler, on the 24th to 
Kaiserslautern. It will take over in the first instance the observation 
of the hostile frontier between a detachment of the Vlllth Army 
Corps, stationed at Saarbruecken, and a Royal Bavarian brigade, sta- 
tioned at Speyer under command of Major General Maillinger. 

As far as known here, the last mentioned has a battalion, at Win- 
den (railway center between Landau and Weissenburg), supported 
by a Baden Squadron and a pioneer company at Maxau. 

The position of the almost mobilized Baden Division was on the 
evening of the 18th July as follows: 

Headquarters, Karlsruhe. 

lid battalion, 2d Grenadier regiment, and one squadron 1st Dra- 
goon regiment at Hagenbach Bavarian Palatine, south of the Maxau 
bridge): patrols on the Lauterbach. 

One squadron at Winden (see above), patrols at Weissenburg. 

One company at Maxau. 

3d Dragoon Regiment observes the Rhine from Maxau to Stein- 
mauern (mouth of the Murg). 

2d Dragoon Regiment observes the Rhine from Steinmauem to 

Besides the 34th Pomerenian Fusilier regiment and a Prussian 
Mining company, the 2d and 3d Baden Infantry brigades (12 bat- 
talions) including fortress artillery and pioneers, are at Rastatt. 

Kehl is occupied with 11 companies of the 3d regiment, 40 artil- 
lerymen, a few pioneers and 20 horses. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

Troops not mentioned are stationed in northern garrisons. 

At Heidelberg is a reserve hospital of 300 beds. 

Arrangements, to block the passage of the Rhine by Steinmau- 
ern have been made; 19 large boats and 70 launches are ready to be 

The Wuertemberg Division is completely mobilized and is ready 
to be transported on the evening of the 26th of this month. Their 
destination is Karlsruhe. Ten squadrons are ready to move today 
and are temporarily at the disposition of the Baden Division. 

As to the Royal Bavarian Army Corps, the following mentioned 
troops are ready for action at Germersheim and Speyer: 

On the 1st of August, the 2d, 3d and 4th Division. 

On the 2d of August, the 1st Division. 

On the 3d of August, the reserve cavalry of both corps. 
• On the 7th of August, the reserve artillery of the lid Corps. 

The Bavarian Army Corps will not be equipped with all their 
trains until the evening of August 8th. 

No. 41 

To THE Commanding General, the Royal Wurtemberg Divi- 

Berlin, July 21, 1870, 11:30 A.M. 

Place temporarily at the disposition of the Baden Division all 
the cavalry which is ready to march, and place these in movement at 
once, and if possible by rail.* 

Lt. General v. Beyer, Commanding the Baden Division, inquired 
by telegraph if he could leave Mannheim unoccupied. According to 
his report French troops had been seen near Stollhofen. The enemy 
was examining the course of the river. General von Moltke answered : 

No. 42 

To Lt. General von Beyer. 

Berlin, July 21, 1870, 9:30 A.M. 

As Hagenbach, Landau and Speyer are occupied, there is no ob- 
jection of withdrawing the battalions at Mannheim. The consolida- 
tion of the Baden Division around Rastatt is desirable. 

On the necessity of detraining the Second Army in rear of the 
Rhine, General von Moltke expressed himself as follows: 

•"The Baden Division was informed by telegraph of this order. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 43 

Report for His Majesty the King. 

Berlin, July 22, 1870. 

The French had not crossed the frontier up to yesterday; but they 
may do so at any moment. 

If today, our 7th mobilization day, they take the offensive, with 
142,000 men, which they have assembled, they may on the 13th mobili- 
zation day by a resolute advance reach the vicinity of Kirchheimbol- 

At most the French may reach on our 15th mobilization day the 
Rhine, where they will meet: 

the Hid, IVth and IVth Corps. -100,000 men near Mainz 

the Xlth Corps, the Baden Divi- 
sion and a part of the Wurtemberg 
Division, about 50,000 men near Worms 

the Vlllth Corps 20,000 men near Kreuznach 

Total 170,000 men 

so that the hostile movement even in the most favorable case for them 
will come to a standstill. 

After the 17th mobilization day we will be reenforced by: The 
Guard and Xth Corps near Mainz and the Vth and Xllth Corps near 

August 1. On this day we may debouch with: 

near Kreuznach 30,000 men 

from Mainz 130.000 men 

from Worms 90,000 men 

Total, less Bavarians 250,000 men 

The Vllth Corps remains available for use against the enemy's 

It is possible that the French may delay their invasion. 52,000 
men are being concentrated behind the Corps already completely mo- 
bilized; 70,000 reserves will join the depots on July 23, and the troops 
on the 28th. It is however neither certain, nor probable, that the 
French will wait this long. 

We can meet the French even if they do not commence their 
march before the 9th mobilization day (July 24) by Kirchheimbolan- 
den or in advance thereof only with the Hid and IVth Corps; 60,000 
men. We would have to fight a retreating action. 

I have the honor to propose now as a conclusion, "that the Second 
Army detrains on the Rhine." 

This will not preclude sending two Divisions after the 12th mo- 
bilization as advance guard beyond Mainz, and according to circum- 
stances of moving the Second Army forward by marching. 

No changes are necessary in railroad and march tables for the 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

No. 44 

To THE Administration of the Hessian Ludwigs Railroad. 

Berlin, July 22, 1870, 9:00 A.M. 

It is important from a military point of view to go ahead with 
the construction of the railway line Armsheim — Alzey. It is for 
this reason desirable that you continue this work vigorously. If nec- 
essary the viaduct may temporarily be provided with a wooden struc- 
ture instead of a stone arch, about which I must be informed. Please 

No. 45 

To the C. G. 1st Army Corps. 
Koenigsberg i. Pr. 

Berlin, July 22, 1870. 

I most respectfully request the Royal Corps H. Q. while continu- 
ing the transportation arrangements already provided for, to arrange 
for extending in the general direction of Dresden, the movements of 
fractions of the Army Corps which are to detrain at Hansdorf and 
Goerlitz. The troops which are to detrain at Dresden will similarly 
continue their movement as far as Riesa. 

The Army Corps will thereby be in position to continue its move- 
ment by rail as soon as the lines which lead west are free. 

The necessary orders will be sent at the proper time and it is 
desirable that I be advised as soon as possible as to the march tables 
of the units of the Army Corps from Hansdorf, Goerlitz and Dresden. 
A copy of these orders above mentioned, has been sent confidentially to 
the Royal Saxonian War Minister. The commander of the army corps 
should enter into communication with the above mentioned authority 
concerning the billeting of troops which will pass through Saxon ter- 

No. 46 

To the Headquarters of the VIth Army Corps. 

Berlin, July 22, 1870. 

I enclose herewith for the Royal Corps Headquarters, two copies 
of the instruction tablesf for the garrison troops of the VIth Army 
Corps for transmission. At the same time I desire respectfully to re- 
quest that you issue, orders that the 11th Infantry Division be con- 
centrated by marching and be billeted widely east of and near Goer- 
litz; the 12th Infantry Division, the Corps Artillery and the trains be 
concentrated in the same manner near Breslau. The cavalry regi- 
ments will until further orders march with the Divisions to which 
they belong according to peace formation. 

*See No. 53 for modifications of this order. 
fNot found. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

The staff of the 2d Cavalry Division, which is to be formed at 
Breslau, will remain for the present in Breslau with the Staff of the 
Army Corps. 

No. 47 


Berlin, July 22, 1870, evening. 

The decision of His Majesty the King, that the concentration of 
the army will take place in the first instance on the Rhine, seem to 
require the following special instructions: 

I. By line A (Illd Army Corps, followed by the Xth Army Corps), 
Bingen is designated as the detraining railhead. The Illd Army 
Corps will send an advance guard beyond Kreuznach and will be bil- 
leted east of the line Bingen — Kreuznach. As soon as the Xth Army 
Corps arrives, the Illd Army Corps will move towards Mainz. 

II. On line C (the IVth army corps, followed by the Guard 
Corps) Mannheim is designated as the detraining railhead. The IVth 
Army Corps will sent an advance guard beyond Dirkheim, which will 
keep in liaison with the advance guard of the Illd Army Corps by 
means of the 5th Dragoon regiment stationed at Kaiserslautern. The 
main body of the IVth Army Corps will be billeted around Mann- 
heim. The Army Corps will then be ready to march off, either on 
Marnheim or on Mainz by either the right or left bank of the 
Rhine. It will be in position to support the Xlth Army Corps and 
the Bavarians by Landau — Germersheim, or else the Baden and Wur- 
temburg troops near Rastadt. As to v.'hether the Guard Corps shall 
also detrain near Mannheim or better be near Darmstadt, this is a 
question the solution of which will depend on future circumstances. 

III. The Grand Ducal Hessian (25th) Division (belong to the 
mobilized IXth Army Corps) must not be advanced beyond Worms. 

IV. The rest of the IXth Army Corps (18th Infantry Division, 
Corps Artillery and trains), and the Xllth (Royal Saxon) Army Corps 
which detrain at Mosbach or Castel will be billeted near Mainz. 

V. Headquarters of the Second Army is charged with regulating 
the billeting and L. of C, of the two reserve corps, the IXth and 
Xllth about Mainz. 

No. 48 

To THE Headquarters ov the First, Second and Third Armies. 

Berlin, July 23, 1870. 

His Majesty the King directs that all staffs and commands, pre- 
scribed by Tables of Organization, or the order of battle will im- 
mediately commence to function. They will not control directly the 
troops until after these have left the rail lines. 

— 20C- 

Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

No. 49 

To ALL Headquarters Staffs. 

Berlin, July 23, 1870. 

His Majesty the King orders that telegraphic reports be as brief 
as clearness permits. All unnecessary words in the address, titles, 
signatures, etc., are particularly to be avoided. 

Avoid the use of cipher telegrams as much as possible; they easily 
result in misunderstandings, and if they are used too often, they 
may lead to the discovery of the cipher. In all cases the original 
cipher telegrams are to be completely destroyed after they have been 

No. 50 

To THE Staff of the Second Army. 

Berlin, July 23, 1870. 

His Majesty the King directs that the Royal H. Q. be informed as 

The intelligence which has been received concerning the mobili- 
zation and concentration of the Imperial French army, indicates that 
it is possible that within a few days important hostile forces will cross 
the frontier between Trier and the Rhine. 

Therefore His Majesty has decided, that the Illd and Xth Army 
Corps which are to be transported by the Line Cologne — Coblenz — 
Bingen will commence to detrain at the last place. They will be bil- 
leted at first in the direction of Kreuznach and Maince, under protec- 
tion of an advance guard posted the first mentioned of these two 

In the same manner should the IVth and Guard Corps be trans- 
ported by rail only as far as Mannheim via Frankfort M.; the ad- 
vance guard of the IVth Army Corps will be posted towards Durk- 
heim. The 5th Rhine Dragoons who are at Kaiserslautern will tem- 
porarily maintain liaison between the advance guards of the Hid and 
IVth Army Corps but they should however be relieved as soon as pos- 
sible by another cavalry regiment from the Second Army. The main 
body of the IVth Army Corps will be billeted along around Mannheim. 
Furthermore His Majesty places the Second Army in charge of regu- 
lating billeting in the vicinity of Maince and of L. of C. affairs for 
the IXth and Xllth (Royal Saxon) Army Corps. 

The Headquai'ters, Second Army, will be transported on the eve- 
ning of July 26th from here by rail to Mainz. 

Report if a change becomes necessary as to this billeting as- 
signment. The IXth and Xllth Army Corps have been directed to 
send a general staff officer and an intendance official as soon as possi- 
ble in advance to Mainz. 

The direct observation of the hostile frontier is now assured: 

(a) from Trier to Saarbruecken through detachments of the 
Vlllth Army Corps, now in process of concentration in the direction 
of Saarlouis. 

(b) from Saarbruecken to the Rhine through Royal Bavarian 
troops (H. Q. Speyer, Major General Maillinger). 

On the 24th of this month the 5th Rhine Dragoons will arrive at 
Kaiserslautern, as mentioned above, to assure liaison with the ob- 


Moltke's Correspondence 

servation detachments of the Vlllth Corps. The Royal Bavarian 
troops can thus close in towards their left. 

Finally on the right bank of the Rhine is the Grand Ducal Baden 
Division, reinforced by 10 Royal Wurtemberg squadrons now south 
of Karlsruhe and completely mobilized. The Royal Prussian Xlth 
Army Corps is in motion by rail and march towards Landau — Ger- 

The enclosure herewith which is to be kept very secret and is not 
to be copied is intended to give you a general idea as to the movements 
of the army within the next few days. 

General idea as to the initial movements of the entire army. 

First Army 

Vllth Corps— 13th Division; 24th-27th July, to Call by rail; 31st 
July-lst August, to Trier by road. 14th Division; 24th-26th July, to 
Aachen and Stolberg by rail; lst-2d August, to Trier by road. 

Vlllth Corps — To march generally on the right bank of the 
Moselle (the troops coming from the north crossing at Berncastel), 
and to be echeloned between Saarlouis and Hermeskeil on the 2d Au- 
gust, or to be assembled in the neighborhood of Kirchberg between the 
28th and 31st July. 

Second Army 

Hid Corps; 25th-28th July, to Bingen by rail. 

Xth Corps; 29th Julv-5th August, to Bingen. 

IV Corps; 26th to 29th July, to Mannheim. 

Guard Corps; 30th July-5th August, to Darmstadt or Mannheim. 

Third Army 

Xlth Corps; 25th-27th July to Germersheim and Landau. 

Vth Corps; 27th July-3d August, to Landau. 

Bavarians: — 1st Corps at Speyer; lid Corps at Germersheim; 
both to be completely mobilized bv the 3d August, and ready to move 
by the 9th. 

Wurtembergers; 27th-28th July, concentrated at Carlsruhe; 10 
squadrons moved there yesterday (22d July). 

Badeners; the Baden Division is now north of Rastatt. 


IXth Corps; of this Corps, the 25th Division moves to Worms on 
the 26th July, 18th Division, 28th July— 2d August, to Mainz. 
Xllth Corps; 27th July-2d August, to Mainz. 

Corps in the Eastern Districts of the Monarchy 

1st Corps; 27th July-5th August, to move westward as far as 

lid Corps; 26th-31st July, to Berlin. 

Vlth Corps; to move chiefly by marching after the 25th and 26th 
July. The 11th Division at Goerlitz; 12th Division at Breslau. 


Operations Julj^ 18 to September 2, 1870 

17th Infantry Division and Landwehr Divisions 

17th Division; 26th-28th July, to Hamburg. 

Guard Landwehr Division; 28th July-3d August, to Hanover. 

2d Landwehr Division; 29th July-lst August, at Bremen. 

1st Landwehr Division To be echeloned along the railways 

until the 5th August, viz., at Schnei- 

2d Landwehr Division demuehl, Magdeburg, Stettin, Glogau, 

Posen and Tilsit. 

The garrisons of the fortresses will be on a war footing as fol- 

Saarlouis (is now fully garrisoned as per war establishment). 
Mainz — on 28th July. 
Cologne — on 1st August. 
Coblenz— on 30th July. 

and the menaced coast-fortresses on the 29th and 30th July. 

NB. — On all transportation lines times have been calculated to 
include the first line ammunition columns and trains. 

No. 51 
To THE Headquarters of the First Army. 

Berlin, July 23, 1870. 

In compliance with his Majesty's orders, I send the Royal H. Q. 
staff a very secret, and not to be copied, synopsis of the movements 
of the army, which are to take place in the near future. 

At the same time I also inform the H. Q. staff that it will be 
transported from here on the afternoon of July 26th by rail to 

Finally I respectfully request that you send to my office as soon 
ag possible as march table showing the Headquarters of the corps 
commanders and the commander of the Vllth and Vlllth Army Corps. 

No. 52 
To the Headquarters of the Third Army. 

Berlin, July 23, 1870. 

In compliance with his Majesty's orders, I send the Royal H. Q. 
staff a very secret and not to be copied synopsis of the movements of 
the army, which are to take place in the near future. Please note that ' 
the Headquarters of the Second Army has been directed to relieve as 
soon as possible the 5th Rhine Dragoon regiment at Kaiserslautern 
by another cavalry regiment. The first mentioned regiment is there- 
upon to be returned to the control of its own Division. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

The Headquarters of the Third Army will be transported on 
the afternoon of the 28th by rail to Mannheim. 

A report if it becomes necessary to change the location of the 

No. 53 

To THE Headquarters of the 1st Army Corps. 


Berlin, July 23, 1870. 

His Majesty the King orders that the 1st Army Corps shall be 
transported — changing our earlier order — by rail to Berlin, and shall 
be billeted in this vicinity until the rail lines toward the west are 
free. I respectfully request the Corps Headquarters, in reply to your 
telegram of the 22d of this month, to get in connection at Berlin with 
the Royal General government for the districts of the Hid and IVth 
Army Corps areas in regard to billeting the army corps. 

No. 54 

To THE Headquarters of the IVth Army Corps. 

Berlin, July 23, 1870. 

His Majesty the King directs that the IXth Army Corps report 
temporarily to the Second Army in regard to billeting areas near 
Mainz and the regulation of the lines of communication. I respect- 
fully advise you that the Grand Ducal Hessian (25th) Division has 
received orders direct from here to move on the 25th of this month 
to Gernsheim, on the 26th of this month to Worms, and to billet at 
the latter place and vicinity. I request you in consequence to get in 
communication with the Royal Headquarters staff of the Second Army 
(up to the 26th evening here, from the 28th noon at Mainz), as to the 
above mentioned points, and to send in advance as soon as possible 
General Staff Officer, and an Intendance official to the last mentioned 

No. 55 

To the Headquarters of the Guard, IIId, IVth, Vth, VIIth, 
VIIIth, IXth, Xth, and XIth Army Corps. 

Berlin, July 23, 1870. 

In regard to march and rail routes of supply trains, the Royal 
Corps H. Q. is requested to note the following: 

' I. All auxiliary trains that can arrive by marching before August 

6 in line with the points designated as the principal depots of the army 
corps, are by August 5 to be started off as soon as they are organ- 

II. Where this cannot be done, the auxiliary trains will be for- 
warded by rail. It should be considered that transportation will not 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

be available before August the 1st. It is even possible that rail trans- 
portation will not be available before August 4th or 5th. 

III. In consideration of the above, the Royal Corps Headquar- 
ters will please report quickly to this office, when and by which route 
the auxiliary trains will be started off, or else when and where they 
will be organized and ready for rail transportation. 

IV. All auxiliary trains must be loaded, regardless as to whether 
they proceed by marching or by rail. 

No. 56 

To THE Headquarters of the IVth Army Corps. 

Berlin, July 2A, 1870, 10:00 A.M. 

The first echelons of the IVth Army Corps will be detrained at 
Mannheim and will be billeted there. Orders to this effect have been 
given to the railroads. Advise the troops. 

No. 57 

To the Grand Ducal Hessian G. H. Q., and to the Prussian 
Pioneer Headquarters at Mannheim. 

Berlin, July 2h, 1870, 10:00 A.M. 

Preserve under all circumstances the railroad bridge over the 
Rhine. Destruction absolutely inadmissible. 

Lieut. Colonel Wright, commanding the 5th Rhine Dragoons, had 
telegraphed: "Kaiserslautern, 7, 24, 1870; 10:20 A.M. Dragoon regi- 
ment arrived. If your Excellency does not answer in three hours, 
leave today for Landstuhl. Tomorrow to Homburg, possibly Blies- 
kastel. Will be in daily telegraphic connection with Saarbrueck and 
Homburg " General von Moltke answered: 

No. 58 

To Lt. Colonel Wright. 

Berlin, July 2U, 1870, 1:15 P.M. 

Keep moving, but keep in liaison to your left. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 59 

To Lt. Colonel von Pestel. 

Berlin, July 2U, 1870, U:00 P.M. 

In our own country, structures of great importance will not be 
destroyed. If your retreat becomes necessary, carry one minor, but 
repeated interruptions on both railroads. 

No. 60 

To Lieutenant Colonel von Pestel. 

Berlin, July 25, 1870, 10:30 A.M. 

The numbers of the regiments, of prisoners, of killed and of de- 
serters are to be telegraphed immediately to this office. (14) Report 
railway destruction carried out on the 24th, also the name of the 
technical engineer who participated therein. 

No. 61 

To Vice-Admiral Jachmann. 

Berlin, July 25, 1870, 9:45 P.M. 

The embassy in London telegraphs: 

"Dover, July 25, 1870. 
The French fleet, consisting of ten iron vessels has just passed 
the straits going east." 

Lt. General von Gersdorff, commanding the 22d Division reported 
on the morning of July 25th, that he had arrived at Landau and in 
view of intelligence just received by him as to a hostile advance soon 
to be made on Pirmasens, to be intended to concentrate all Prussian 
troops already arrived northwest of Landau. 

General von Moltke answered immediately: 

No. 62 

To Lt. General von Gersdorff. 

Berlin, July 26, 1870, morning. 

Your telegram of this morning received. I approve your inten- 
tion, and invite your attention towards Annweiler. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

The Baden and Wurtemberg- Divisions at Carlsruhe have been 
instructed from this office, to rally on the Third Army, if a hostile 
advance takes place only on the left bank of the Rhine. 

Until the arrival of General Werder and later of the headquar- 
ters of the Third Army, the senior g-eneral is in command. The IVth 
Army Corps near Mannheim will later be able to support you. 

Advise General Bose* and General Bothmerf as to this message. 

No. 63 

To THE Headquarters of the Grand Ducal Baden and Royal 
Wurtemberg Divisions. 

Berlin, July 26, 1870, morning. 

It is improbable that 60,000 men advance on Weissenburg from 
Bitsch, Strassburg, Colmar, Belfort. 

If important forces advance towards the Lauter, without it ap- 
pearing that a crossing of the Rhine is to be effected simultaneously 
or earlier, the Baden Division with the Wurtembergers will join im- 
mediately with the Third Army by Maxau or Germersheim. 

See that the bridges at Maxan are safely guarded. 

The Xlth Corps detrains on the 25th in Germersheim; the Vth 
Corps on the 27th at Landau; the Bavarians should be on August 3d 
at Speyer and Germersheim. If the French rather advance on the 
right bank, the Baden and Wurtemberg Divisions be supported in 
time near Ettlingen. 

Acknowledge receipt by telegraph. 

Lt. Colonel von Pestel reported on July 24th, 1:45 P.M., that he 
had made the viaduct between Saargemuend and Blieskastel impassa- 
ble, and that destructions would continue. (See No. 37.) General von 
Moltke answered: 

No. 64 

To Lt. Colonel von Pestel. 

Berlin, July 26, 1870, 7:30 P.M. 

The mission assigned you from here is considered as accom- 

^Commanding General of the Xlth Army Corps. 
fCommanding General of the Royal Bavarian 4th Division. 
JA copy of this telegram was sent to the Third Army at Berlin. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Lt. Colonel Wright received the following answer to an inquiry 
concerning his future actions. 

No. 65 

To Lt. Colonel Wright. 

Berlin, July 26, 1870, 7:30 P.M. 

Observe and keep in liaison on both flanks until you are relieved. 

On July 27, 3:12 P.M., Lt. Colonel von Leszczynski inquired from 
Carlsruhe, if he should carry out the dam across the Rhine, near Al- 
trip, south of Mannheim. 

General von Moltke answered: 

No. 66 

To Lt. Colonel von Leszczynski. 

Berlin, July 27, 1870, 7:30 P.M. 

I approve the preparation for obstructing the river near Altripp. 
While reserving the right to carry out this project, the water com- 
munications between Mainz and Germersheim are important for us. 
See that the obstruction prepared according to my orders, at the last 
mentioned town* will not prevent the possible destruction of the 
Maxau bridges. 

No. 67 
To all Headquarters. 

Berlin, July 27, 1870. 

His Majesty the King directs that there be submitted every ten 
days to G. H. Q., commencing August 1, situation reports on mobil- 
ized troops. 

These returns will show by Army Corps and Cavalry Divisions, 
the situation of troops on the first, eleventh and twenty-first of each 

Casualty lists are to be submitted within 24 hours after every 
engagement. The regimental numbers, etc., of prisoners captured will 
also be immediately reported to this office. 

Generals and Staff Officers will be reported by name. 

*See No. 28. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 
No. 68 

To ALL Army and Corps Headquarters. 

Berlin, July 28, 1870. 

The military authorities, the Intendance and the contractors 
cannot figure on transportation during great troop movements. They 
are to be positively informed not to push the railroad administration 
in this matter. Arrangements made for train movements and num- 
ber of cars in trains must be strictly complied with. 

Send here, up to the 31st instant inclusive, all pressing requests 
on the Intendance, giving quantities, and untraining and detraining 

No. 69 
To THE VIIIth Army Corps. 


Berlin, July 28, 1870, 12:30 P.M. 

Direst your troops to wire me all information concerning the 
enemy, especially engagements; as far as possible give the numbers 
of the hostile regiments. 

No. 70 

To THE Lt. General von Stosch. 

Berlin, July 28, 1870, P.M. 

It is desirable that subsistance supplies be pushed forward; at 
first up to the line Kreuznach — Alzey — Worms. A large depot at 
Alzey; depots at Gaubickelheim and Monsheim. Bakeries at Neunkir- 
chen, Homburg and Saarlouis. To assist the bakers call on the pio- 
neers of Captain Mantey in Bingerbrueck and Captain Huene in Mann- 
heim. But do not interfere with the great troop movements. The 
1st Corps will arrive by lines A and C; the Vlth Corps by lines E 
and D commencing on the 3d of August; the lid Corps not yet decided. 
Details by letter.* 

No. 71 


Berlin, 28 July, 1870. 

By the 30th of this month there will be equipped and ready for 
operations : 

First Army 

VII Corps, marching on Trier, with main body within two days' 
march of this point. 

*See No. 77. 

Moltke's Correspondence 

VIII Corps, marching on Saarlouis, with main body near the 
heights near Morbach (two miles * south of Berncastel). 

3d Cavalry Division, in part watching the frontier and in part 
in march on Corps liaison. 

Second Army and Reserves 

III Corps (less Corps artillery), east of the line Bingen; Kreuz- 

IV Corps, astride the high road Mannheim; Durkheim. 

I IX Corps (less Corps artillery), between Mainz and Worms. 

5th and 6th Cavalry Division (less regiment with X Corps), in 
the vicinity of the III and IV Corps. 

The Guard, X and XII Corps along four railroad lines in the 
area Bingen; Mainz; Mannheim. 

In order to secure sufficient room for the last mentioned corps, 
and to improve the supply arrangements, it is desirable that the III 
and IV Corps move their main body to the line Alsenz; Gollheim; 
Grunstadt, with advance guards securing the line Lauterechen ; Kais- 
erslautern. While advancing Cavalry Divisions should be formed 
to be pushed still further towards the frontier. Headquarters of the 
Second Army — Alzey. 

On the other hand by holding back the Second Army the First 
Army must halt on the line Trier; Wadern in order not to isolate 
it by pushing it forward to the frontier, where up to the present 
time only some advance troops and the 3d Cavalry Division are in 

In the dispositions which have hitherto been directed for the 
Third Army changes as to time should not be allowed. 

Finally it is necessary to clear up the situation, since the French 
army has already crossed the frontier today with important forces. 

Especially does this apply to the center where the Second Army 
and the Reserves are. These Headquarters can assemble on the 
line Alsenz; Gollheim; Grunstadt, in one line; but not before August 
5th, even with extraordinary marches; so that by that date there 
will be the following troops 

The Guard Corps 29000 infantry 

III Corps 25000 infantry 

IV Corps 25000 infantry 

X Corps 25000 infantry 

IX Corps 23000 infantry 

XII Corps 29000 infantry 

I Corps 25000 infantry 

h VI Corps 13000 infantry 

Total 194000 infantry 

in a good position, able to debouch from high ground on the heads 
of the enemy's columns. Lastly there may be found on this line: 

3d Corps, Bazaine 36000 infantry 

2d Corps, Frossard 27000 infantry 

5th Corps, Failly 27000 infantry 

Guard Corps, Bourbaki 18000 infantry 

Reserves, Canrobert 25000 infantry 

Total 133000 infantry 

*These are German miles. A German mile is equal to about 
7500 yards or 41 English miles. — C.H.L. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

On the flanks the enemy may assemble: 

Right Flank: 
1st Corps MacMahon, 44000 infantry against which the Third 
army has today 

XI Corps 25000 infantry 

i V Corps 13000 infantry 

Baden Division 12000 infantry 

Wurtemberg Division 15000 infantry 

One Bavarian Division 12000 infantry 

Total 77000 infantry 

to oppose them. These troops will be reenforced by August 5th by: 

h V Corps 12000 infantry 

3 Bavarian Divisions 36000 infantry 

Total 48000 infantry 

As noted above 77000 infantry 

Total for Illd Army 125000 infantry 

On the left flank the enemy has available: 

4th Corps, Ladmirault, 27000 infantry against which the First 
Army has 50000 infantry. 

Therefore on August 5th: 

First Army Second Army Third Army 

50,000 infantry 194,000 infantry 125,000 infantry 

against against against 

27,000 infantry 133,000 infantry 44,000 infantry 

No. 72 


To General of Infantry v. Steinmetz. 


Berlin, 29 July, 1870, 3:00 P.M. 

His Majesty directs that the First Army main body shall not 
pass the line Saarburg; Wadern. Hold Trier against enemy attacks. 

No. 73 


To Prince Frederick Charles. 

Berlin, 29 July, 1870, 3:00 P.M. 

His Majesty directs that the Second Army push forward its 
cantonments to the line Alsenz; Gollheim; Grunstadt. Advance 


Moltke's Correspondence 

guards should be formed from the 5th and 5th Cavalry Divisions 
still further forward. 

No. 74 

To THE Commanding General. 
First Army. 

Berlin, 29 July, 1870. 

His Majesty, the King, leaves here at 6:00 P.M. the 31st in- 
stant passing through 

Magdeburg at 8:30 P.M., July 31st 

Fraunschweig 3:00 A.M., August 1st 

Hanover 6:00 A.M., August 1st 

Hamm 3:00 P.M., August 1st 

Cologne ^___10:30 P.M., August 1st 

Coblenz 3:00 A.M., August 2d 

for Mainz, where GHQ will be after 7:00 A.M., August 2d. 

Wire information to above mentioned stations. 

From the enclosed report it can be seen what is known as to the 
strength, formation and positions of the hostile army. 

At the same time I advise you that in compliance with cipher 
GHQ telegram* of this date, the Second Army has been ordered 
to advance their cantonments to the line Alsenz; Gollheim; Grun- 
stadt, and that the 1st and Vlth Corps are soon to be brought by 
rail to South of Mainz to the area Bingen; Mainz; Mannheim by 
August 5th. 

The Commanding General, Second Army moves his Headquarters 
in the morning to Alzey. 

(Enclosure to Above.) 

REPORT : Trustworthy information on the Formation and Po- 
sition of the French Army for the Period July 27 to July 29. 
1st Corps, MacMahon; Chief of Staff, General Colson. 
2 Divisions at Strassburg 

2 Divisions near Strassburg in bivouac along the railroad 
to Brumath. 
The 1st Corps should have 19 batteries, consisting of 12 Divi- 
sion batteries, 1 horse battery belonging to the Cavalry Division, 
and four 12-pounder and two 4-pounder batteries of the Corps artil- 

Strassburg is fully armed; although machine guns are still to 
be mounted on field carriages. 

2d Corps, Frossard; Chief of Staff, General Saget. 
Headquarters at St. Avoid. 

Bataille's Division is opposite our outposts near Forbach. 
Near Morsbach several points have been fortified. 
3d Corps, Bazaine; Chief of Staff, General Manique. 
The advance of this corps on the 22d instant from Metz to 
Bolchen has been confirmed. 

The 3d Division (Lebrun) is to be commanded by Lorencez. 

*See No. 72. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

4th Corps, Ladmirault; Chief of Staff, General Deiant de Mart- 

This corps is to be assembled near Diedenhofen. 

The advance guard near Sierck is to consist of the 20th Rifle 
Battalion; the 13th and 33d Infantry; and the 11th Chasseurs 

Two divisions of this corps are to be commanded by Generals 
Eissey and Payol. 

5th Corps, de Failly; Chief of Staff, General Besson. 

Headquarters at Bitsch. 

This corps is to have four divisions. Nothing further known. 

6th Corps, Canrobert; Chief of Staff, General Henry. 

To assemble near Chalons. 

Nothing further known as to its mobilization. 

7th Corps, Donay; Chief of Staff, General Benson. 

Headquarters ; at Belf ort. 

Reported as still in progress of mobilization. 

But news received that it is to consist of three cavalry and one 
infantry divisions. The commanders of the cavalry divisions are 
to be Generals Barail, de Bonnemains and de Forton. 

Guard Corps, Beurbaki; Chief of Staff, General d'Auvergne. 

Stationed near Nancy. 

The Emperor Napoleon left yesterday to join his army. His 
headquarters are at Nancy. 

The Army in Alsace and Lorraine is designated as "the Army 
of the Rhine." 

There is also talk of other corps, among which are probably 
that of General Count Palikao for the expeditionary forces to be 
sent by sea, and it is understood Reserve Corps are being formed 
at Chalons. 

Contact between the advance troops of both sides has been 
quickly obtained since July 27th. As to an offensive by the French, 
no evidence thereof has yet been reported. 

A telegram received today (July 29th) from Florence reports 
the embarkation at Civita Vecchia of French troops for France. 
They consisted of: 

Infantry Brigade, Guilheim 
6th Rifle Battalion 
35th and 42d Infantry 
2 squadrons, 7th Chasseurs, mounted 
2 batteries, 14th Artillery 
1 Engineer company 

All under command of Major Dumont. 

No. 75 

To THE Commanding General, Second Army. 

Berlin, 29th July, 1870. 

(Note: First three paragraphs, same as No. 74 omitted. — C.H.L.) 

At the same time I advise you that in compliance with cipher 
GHQ telegram* of this date, the First Army main body has been 

*See No. 73. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

pushed forward to the line Saarburg; Wadern which is not to be 

The 1st and Vlth Corps are soon to be brought by rail to south 
of Mainz to the area Bingen; Mainz; Mannheim by August 5th, and 
for this reason it is desirable that the IXth and Xllth Corps should 
move their cantonments. 

GHQ understands that changes in plans which may delay the 
Third Army are at present not allowed. 

No. 76 

To THE Commanding General, Third Army. 

Berlin, 29th July, 1870. 

(Note: First three paragraphs, same as No. 74, omitted. — C.H.L.) 

Your excellency is further advised that His Majesty has ordered, 
that the First Army main body is for the present not to cross the line 
Saarburg; Wadern; that the Illd and IVth Corps are to advance 
their cantonments to the line Alsenz; Gollheim; Grumstadt, and that 
also the 1st and Vlth Corps are to be brought by the four rail lines 
A, B, C and D to the area south of Mainz by August 5th. Early on 
the 19th mobilization day (August 3d) a considerable number of supply 
trains will have arrived near Mosbach and Castel, which should be 
loaded at once, in order to free the railroad stations and allow the 
railroad cars to be quickly sent back. 

No. 78 


To General of Infantry, v. Goeben. 


Berlin, SO July, 1870, 2:00 P.M. 

Small detachments at Saarbruecken must not be sacrificed. Sup- 
port by the Second Army not yet possible; the detachment at Wadern 
should not occupy Sulzbach or Neunkirchen. Destruction of rail- 
roads no longer forbidden. 

No. 79 


To Lieut. General v. Pestel. 

Berlin, 30 July, 1870, 7 :50 P.M. 

In view of the great superiority of the enemy the infantry 
should be withdrawn as early as possible from Sulzbach; Bildstock. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

The cavalry should maintain touch with the enemy. Acknowledge 
receipt of this order. 

No. 80 


To Prince Frederick Charles. 

Berlin, 30 July, 1870, £:15 P.M. 

His Majesty directs that the 5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions shall 
be sent without delay to reconnoitre towards the frontier about Saar- 
brucken ; Bitsch. 

The IXth and Xllth Corps until further notice are entirely under 
the orders of your Royal Highness, and are hereby so advised. 

The IXth Corps will at once move up to the line of the Illd and 
IVth Corps; the other Corps will close up immediately . 

No. 81 


To Lieut. General v. Blumenthal. 

Berlin, 30 July, 1870, AM. 

Second Army assembled forward on Alzey; IV Corps near Grun- 

Telegram from Colonel Gottberg of yesterday evening received. 

It appears that the junction of the French 5th and 1st Corps 
on the lower Lauter is intended. 

Information has been received from Zweibrucken that yesterday 
evening strong detachments were about Breidenback; Bitsch. 

I believe it desirable that the Wurttembergers and Badeners 
be brought to the left bank of the Rhine, as long as the Maxau bridge 
can be used. 

No danger is to be feared for the right bank as soon as the 
Third Army proceeds with its offensive in the direction of Hagenau; 

Directions for this will be given by His Majesty; the decision 
will be communicated without delay. 

No orders yet, but advise His Royal Highness the Crown Prince 
on matters to be considered. 

Answer soon. 


Moltke's Correspondence 
No. 82 


To THE Commanding General, Third Army. 

Berli7i, 30 July, 1870, 7:30 P.M. 

His Majesty is of the opinion that as soon as the Baden and 
Wurtemberg Division has joined on the left bank of the Rhine, the 
Third Army should advance in a southerly direction, to seek and 
attack the enemy. 

A bridge fight south of Lauterburg will be thus avoided, all 
South Germany w^ill be effectively protected. 

No. 83 


To THE Commanding General, Third Army. 


Berlin, 31 .July, 1870, 12:20 P.M. 

When do you expect the Third Army vf\\\ be ready for opera- 

Note: General v. Blumenthal replied to the foregoing, that the 
Third Army would be ready to advance on August 3d. 

No. 84 


To the Commanding Generals, First and Third Armies. 
CoBLE^fz and Speyer. 

Berlin, 31 July, 1870, 10:30 A.M. 

Hid, IVth and IXth Corps will be on August 3d in front of 
Alzey; the Guard, Xth and Xllth Corps closed up in rear; the 5th 
and 6th Cavalry Divisions, with one Division each from the Illd 
and IVth Corps, today move forward and are authorized to reach 
the frontier on August 3d. 

(The following is in the telegram to the Third Army only:) 
Posts in Saarbrucken are still held. 

— 22S 





Left Winif— Third Army 


(No date, but about end of July, 1870.) 
Second Army and Reserves 

Aug. 2 

March to 

Aug. 3 

Aug. 4 

Aug. B 

Aug. (J 

Aug. 7 

Aug. 8 

Xlth Corps 
& Baden Div. 

Vth Corps 

& Wurttemberg Div. 


lid Bav. 

1st Bav. 

IVth Corps 

IXth Corps 

Illd Corps 

Xth Corps 

& Karlaluhe 


Laudau & 

Germersheim Speyer 





& Maxau 













Wolf stein 

















St. Wendel 




Rohrbach Reinheim, E. 

of Saargemund 
according to 





1st Corps 


Villi Corps 

Landau or Mussbach 

Vlllth Corps 

First Army — Right Wing 
Vllth Corps 

can reach 
Saarlouis Rehlingen 


Note:— GHQ was enroute to Mainz. — C.H.L. 

Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 
No. 85 


To THE Commanding General, First Army. 


Berlin, 31 July, 1870. 

His Majesty directs that the First Army be assembled on the 
line Wadern ; Losheim. Observation to be continued towards the 

No. 86 


To Lieut. General v. Stosch. 

Berlin, 31 July, 1870, 2:00 P.M. 

Depots at Birkenfeld, Kusel and Kaiserlautern desirable. Ad- 
vance in immediate prospect. 

No. 87 

To the Commanding General, Second Army. 

Magdeburg RR. Station, 31 July, 1870. 

Kaiserslautern and Birkenfeld will be cleared by early morning 
August 2d. Line commissions have been advised. Illd, Xth and 
Guard Corps should inform the High Command. 

Np. 88. 

(See Proposed March Table) 

No. 89 

To the Commanding General, Second Army. 

GHQ, Mainz, 2 August, 1870. 

By Royal order, the 1st Corps cantonments and movements will 
be supervised by GHQ. Of the 1st Corps, five battalions will be 
available at Birkenfeld from August 3d; the remainder of the 1st 








Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

No. 85 


To THE Commanding General, First Army. 


Berlin, 31 July, 1870. 

His Majesty directs that the First Army be assembled on the 
line Wadern; Losheim. Observation to be continued towards the 

No. 86 


To Lieut. General v. Stosch. 

Berlin, 31 July, 1870, 2:00 P.M. 

Depots at Birkenfeld, Kusel and Kaiserlautern desirable. Ad- 
vance in immediate prospect. 

No. 87 

To the Commanding General, Second Army. 

Magdeburg RR. Station, 31 July, 1870. 

Kaiserslautern and Birkenfeld will be cleared by early morning 
August 2d. Line commissions have been advised. Hid, Xth and 
Guard Corps should inform the High Command. 

Np. 88. 

(See Proposed March Table) 

No. 89 

To the Commanding General, Second Army. 

GHQ, Mainz, 2 August, 1870. 

By Royal order, the 1st Corps cantonments and movements will 
be supervised by GHQ. Of the 1st Corps, five battalions will be 
available at Birkenfeld from August 3d; the remainder of the 1st 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Infantry Division, and three regiments of the 1st Cavalry Division 
of the 1st Corps, will quickly follow in in one column. 

The remaining half of the 1st Corps detrains at the rate of 18 
trains a day at Kaiserslantern commencing August 4th. 

No. 90 

To THE Commanding General, Third Army. 

GHQ, Mainz, 2 August, 1870. 

By Royal order the Vlth Corps cantonments and movements 
will be supervised by GHQ. 

The Vlth Corps, less the Cavalry regiment, attached by the 2d 
Cavalry Division order of battle, will detrain at the rate of 12 
trains a day at Landau commencing early on August 4th. 

No. 91 

To THE Commanding General, Second Army. 

GHQ, Mainz, 2 August, 1870, 11 :00 A.M. 

With reference to telegrams sent yesterday from Royal GHQ, 
His Majesty the King has proposed, and orders as follows: 

In view of the fact that the enemy up to today has not advanced 
with any strong forces, the IVth Corps main body will advance to 
Landstuhl, but will not proceed beyond this point. 

Should there develop today a determined hostile advance in the 
area between Saarbrucken and Saargemund, the Illd Corps will not 
advance tomorrow on Baumholder, and the IV Corps main body will 
remain at Kaiserslautern. Further detraining at Birkenfeld and 
Kaiserslautern appears secure. With reference to Birkenfeld the 
presence of the First Army at Wadern for the moment secures this 
point. An earlier advance of the two above mentioned corps, is un- 
desirable until the remainder of the Second Army is distant about 
a half day's march. 

For arranging the further advance of the Army, GHQ needs 
to know as to the progress of the advance ordered for the IXth, 
Guard, Xllth and Xth Corps. 

Concerning the difficulty of furnishing supplies full orders will 
be given, and I will undertake with this in mind to write to Lieut. 
General v. Stosch. 

The present advance of three complete supply trains to Birken- 
feld necessary for the coming detraining of the three ammunition 
trains (1st Train Column) of the Illd Corps already at Bingen 
cannot result in alack of ammunition in the last mentioned Corps, 
as the IXth and Xllth Corps have their ammunition trains with 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

In addition, as Royal GHQ has apparently advised, His Ma- 
jesty the King has assigned effective tomoi'i-ow afternoon Line A, 
and the following morning Line C, to the 1st Corps for its concen- 
tration, lines px-eviously assigned to the Second Army. In conse- 
quence the necessary steps will be taken to assure the above men- 
tioned corps joining the right wing. The 1st Cavalry Division is 
by Royal order, effective today, assigned to the First Army. 

No. 92 


To THE Commanding General, Second Army. 

GHQ, Mainz, 2 August, 1870, 9:00 P.M. 

The Third Army is concentrated today in bivouac north of the 
Kling — Bach. According to information from Zweibrucken the en- 
emy crossed the frontier this afternoon at Saargemund. Telegraphic 
news leads us to suppose that our posts in Saarbruecken have been 

(Note: — The foregoing information was also sent to the Third 

Early deployment of the Second Army necessary. 

No. 93 

To THE Royal Minister of War. 

GHQ, Mainz, 2 August, 1870. 

To provide for the previously determined advance of the German 
troops without weakening the field armies by leaving behind them 
line of communication detachments, it becomes necessary to provide 
special troops for the lines of communications. These can at first 
take over fortresses not in danger uncovered as the army advances. 

It is also recommended that the Third Army Line of Communi- 
cations Command attach trustworthy people with local parties. 

In this regard the favorable consideration of the War Minister 
is hereby requested, that the Royal Headquarters of the Third Army 
from now on enter into direct communication with the War Minis- 
ter on matters of supply. The Prussians will furnish eight bat- 
talions and four squadrons for the line of communications. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 94 
To General of Infantry, v. Steinmetz. 


Hq. Mayence, 3 August, 1870, 11:00 A.M. 

Dilatory advance of the French justifies assumption that the 
Second Army can be concentrated on the 6th instant in front of the 
forest zone at Kaiserslautern. 

If rapid advance of enemy cannot be prevented, concentration of 
Second Army takes place behind the Lauter. 

Combined action of both armies in the battle intended; First 
Army from St. Wendel and Baumholder. 

His Majesty orders that First Army concentrates on the 4th 
against Tholey. Tomorrow Third Army crosses frontier at Weis- 
senburg. General offensive intended. 

No. 95 

To H. R. H. Prince Frederick Charles. 

Hq. Mayence, 3 August, 1870, 11:00 A.M. 

Dilatory advance of the French justifies assumption that the 
Second Army can be concentrated on the 6th instant in front of the 
forest zone at Kaiserslautern. 

First Army will be drawn to Tholey tomorrow. Combination of 
both armies in the battle. 

If rapid advance of the enemy cannot be prevented, concentration 
of Second Army takes place behind the Lauter. First Army to Baum- 

Third Army crosses frontier tomorrow at Weissenburg. General 
offensive intended. 

No. 96 
To Headquarters First Army. 


Hq. Mayence, 3 August 1870, noon. 

By orders of the King 1st Cavalry Division attached to First 
Army. Will reach Birkenfeld from noon the 5th to incl. 8th of August, 
Hq. probably 7 August. 


OiDerations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

No. 97 

To Headquarters Third Army. 

Hq. Mayeyice, 3 August 1870, noon. 

By order of the King 2d Cavalry Division attached to Third Army. 
Headquarters will reach Castel on the Rhine August 4, the regi- 
ments of the Vlth Corps there also from the 3d to 6th August, the 
regiments of the 1st and lid Corps reach Bingen on the 5th and the 
7th or 8th August respectively. 

By noon August 3, only indefinite information had been received 
at Royal Headquarters of the battle at Saarbriicken the day before. 
This caused the Chief of the General Staff of the Army to ask the 

No. 98 

To Commanding Officer. 


Hq. Mayence, 3 August 1870, noon. 

What happened yesterday at Saarbriicken ? We have only 
rumors, but no official report. 

(Same to Hq. Vlllth A. C.) 

Only at 5:15 P.M. a telegram was received in Mayence, sent from 
Lebach at 11:20 A.M. and from Saarlouis at 2:28 P.M., from General v. 
Goeben containing more definite information of the battle at Saar- 
briicken, which caused General v. Moltke to issue the following orders: 

No. 90 

To Headquarters VIIIth Army Corps. 
Lebach (via Saarlouis). 

Hq. Mayence, 3 August 1870, 7:^5 P.M. 

Possession of Saarbriicken at present time of no importance to 
us. First Army has orders to assemble at Tholey. VKIth Corps will 
move guiding its march accordingly. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 100 

To Headquarters Second Army. 


Hq. Mayence, U August 1870, 12:00 noon. 

I have the honor to inform headquarters Second Army that the 
orders of the instant brought by Lieutenant General v. Stosch to 
these headquarters and containing intended movements are in accord- 
ance with the King's intentions. 

For the purpose of orientation for the next few days I will 

The First Army is concentrating to-day in the triangle Tholey — 
Lebach — Ottweiler (hq. Tholey, connection via St. Wendel) and will 
remain there for the present. It has not yet been decided whether 
the 1st Army Corps will be permanently attached to that army or 
kept at the disposition of the King. Consequently it might be ad- 
visable to send the troops of that corps to the vicinity of Tiirkismiihle 
— Tholey — St. Wendel and to keep headquarters of the First Army 
permanently informed of the location of headquarters of 1st Army 

The Third Army takes the offensive today, for the present in 
southerly direction. After it has advanced to Hagenau and if it has 
not met strong hostile forces, it will turn against the Saar at Saarge- 
niund, proper — protecting its left wing. 

If that is the case, it is the intention to have the Vlth Army Corps, 
now detraining at Landau, march to Pirmasens as connecting link be- 
tween the Second and Third Army. 

Still, the Third Army will hardly reach the upper Saar before 
August 9th, and it is therefore not necessary for the Second Army to 
reach the Saar with its main forces before that day. 

The enclosed sketch shows what is knoM'n here so far of the posi- 
tion and strength of the hostile army. The advance of the Third Army 
will bring certain information concerning the whereabouts of the 
corps MacMahon and Failly. The intentions of the enemy appear 
to be a strict defensive on the Saar for the present. Considering 
these points and in so far as hostile forces do not cross the Saao today, 
it is left to H.R.H.'s discretion whether or not the leading elements 
of the Illd and IVth Army Corps very soon advance to the line Ott- 
weiler— Neunkirchen—Homburg, but if they do they must halt there 
and await the arrival of the rear echelons, in order to get as soon as 
possible across the terrain which greatly interferes with the deploy- 
ment of larger forces. 

Finally, I will state that the King has to-day ordered the bringing 
up of the lid Army Corps, and that it will detrain probably on the 
9th or 10th of August in Neunkirchen and Homburg with both infan- 
try divisions. 

The 3d Landwehr Division, placed at the disposal of the Second 
Army for guarding the line of communications, which has been sent 
from here for the present toward Homburg (to arrive there on the 
7th or 8th August), can be detrained in toto or in part at points far- 
ther in the rear, at your discretion, and doing this would relieve two 
companies sent from here to-day by steamer to Bingen and Worms. 

On the 9th instant a ferry service will be ready at Rosengarten 
— Worms to allow loaded wagons coming from Darmstadt to be fer- 
ried there and sent on to Alzey. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

In the matter of assuring subsistence, after today several trains 
will be at the disposal of the proper authorities on Lines A and B. 
Complete control of projected lines will be given to the authorities 
of the lines of communications of the Second Army only after com- 
pletion of transport of the lid Army Corps, that is at about the 11th 
instant (when that corps reaches the terminus). It will also have 
control of Line B by the 10th instant. 

Here follows a sketch of the area between Metz and Strassburg, 
showing French forces as follows: — 

Bourbaki's Corps (Guard) at Metz; Bazaine's (3d Corps) at 
Bolchen; Ladmirault's (4th Corps) west and east of Busendorf (lar- 
ger part west, smaller east) ; Frossard's (2d Corps) between For- 
bach and Saarbriicken; one division or brigade of the 2d Corps west 
of Saargemiind; Failly's (5th Corps) south of Bitsch; MacMahon's 
(1st Corps) south of Hagenau; with one brigade from either 1st or 
7th Corps advanced to the immediate north of Strassburg. 

Notes to this sketch : 

There are no further reports of the 6th Corps, except that the 
47th Regiment is supposed to have still been at Chalons on the 29th 

It is said that the attempt to embark an expeditionary corps has 
been given up (latest reports). 

It is also questionable whether the 1st Corps has not already 
marched via Zabern. 

There is no information at hand concerning the 7th Corps re- 
ported as concentrating upon the upper Rhine. 

No. 101 

To Lieutenant General v. Blumenthal. 

Hq. Mayence, h August 1870, 12:00 noon. 

In reply to your communication of 5 P.M. yesterday, I have the 
honor to inform you that the intentions stated therein are entirely in 
accord with our views and intentions. 

P"'ull freedom is left the Third Army in the execution of its task. A 
direct combined movement with the Second Army is at present im- 
possible, if for no other reason than the difficult Haardt Mountains. 
To bring the operation of both armies into consonance can be done 
only from these headquarters with due regard to the measures taken 
by the enemy. 

It would be very desirable if H. R. H. could encounter the Corps 
of MacMahon, or Failly, as soon as possible. At Hagenau, if not 
prior to reaching there, it must be ascertained if those parts of the 
French army have also been drawn up to the line St. Avoid — Saarge- 
miind. A further advance southward would in that case be but a 
thrust into the air and necessitate a change of direction to the upper 

The Second Army will to-day reach the following points: 

Illd Corps, Baumholder — Kusel; advance guard towards St. 

IVth Corps, Landstuhl; advance guard towards Homburg; 

5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions advanced to near the frontier. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Both corps will have to halt for the present until the remaining 
ones close up. These latter reach today: 

Xth Corps, Meisenheim; 

IXth Corps Winneweiler; (Hq. of Prince Frederick Charles); 

Guard Corps, Otterberg — Kaiserslautern; 

Xllth Corps, Gollheim. 

The First Army today stands in the triangle Tholey — Lebach 
— Ottweiler. 

By the 7th of August presumably the Second and First Army 
will come into direct connection on the line Ottweiler — Zweibriicken. 

The hostile army, the position of which as far as known here 
will be shown by enclosed sketch (see Note No. 100), is remaining 
in a passive attitude. 

It is true that day before yesterday our detachment in Saar- 
brucken was dislodged by three of Frossard's divisions, but the rail- 
road depot in St. Johann is today still unoccupied by the enemy. This 
seems to show that the intention is to take a defensive position in 
force behind the Saar, after interrupting the railroads, the construc- 
tion of fortifications, etc. 

In that case the frontal attack of the Second Army will be ma- 
terially supported by an advance of the Third Army, which, in order 
to use as many roads as practicable, should be made in as much breadth 
as the proximity of the enemy allows. 

It has not yet been decided whether to attach the Vlth Corps 
to the one or the other of the armies; for the present it will be at 
the disposal of the Third Army. That corps, in the advance west- 
ward, may effect a very desirable connection between the Third and 
Second Army on the road to Pirmasens and would prevent a possible 
advance of the enemy from Bitsch between the two armies. 

The object to be sought is the simultaneous action of all three 
armies in the decisive battle, and these headquarters will try to regu- 
late all movements with this idea in view. 

The Baden as well as the Wiirttemberg divisions have signified 
their desire to be attached to a Prussian division and have no inten- 
tion to form a corps by themselves. H. R. H. will use his discretion 
in arranging this matter. 

When the Vth Army Corps no longer requires the railroad trans- 
portation facilities, the troops of the line of communications (8 bat- 
talions, 4 squadrons) placed at the disposal of the Third Army, vdll 
reach Landau on the 9th of August, and the further movements of 
whether troops (by rail or otherwise) is left to H. R. H.'s discretion, 
with the remark that on the whole, after the 9th instant, Line D and 
Line E are entirely at the disposal of the authorities of the lines of 
communications of the Third Army. 

No. 102 

To General of Infantry v. Steinmetz, 

Hq. Mayence, U August 1870, 12:00 noon. 

Your position (Tholey — Lebach — Ottweiler) approved; remain 
there until further orders. 


operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

No. 103 

To Headquarters, First Army. 

Hq. Mayence, U August 1870, 12:00 noon. 

In explanation of my telegram of today, I inform you as follows: 

The Third Army commences the offensive today in the direction 
of Hagenau, and then against the upper Saar. The Second Army 
remains on the march towards the line Neunkirchen — Homburg. The 
First Army will receive further orders to either support the latter or 
to advance against the left flank of the hostile army. We have no in- 
tention of crossing the Saar before the 9th instant, behind which the 
enemy apparently intends remaining on the defensive. 

The 1st Army Corps, which is still detraining at Birkenfeld and 
Kaiserslautern, will be placed in position by the Second Army in such 
manner that it can be attached to either the First or the Second Army 
for further operations. Orders for this will be issued later. 

The enclosed sketch [see note to No. 100] shows the details of 
the hostile positions as far as known here. 

Line F is from now on entirely at the disposition of the authori- 
ties of the lines of communications of the First Army. 

At 8 P.M., August 4, the following telegram sent by General v. 
Steinmetz was received by the Chief of the General Staff at Royal 
headquarters : 

"Hq. St. Wendel, h August 1870, 3:36 P.M. 

By orders of the King I marched today with the First Army to 
the vicinity of Tholey, but would rather have preferred to remain in 
the position at the Saar, because that forms an offensive flank for 
the advance of the Second Army, and the First Army could accom- 
plish more than in position at St. Wendel or even at Baumholder, 
where the First Army is but an elongation of the front of the Second 
Army. Consequently I do not understand the strategic thought in giv- 
ing up the position on the Saar, for which there is no reason in the 
general situation. Information concerning the matter would be very 
acceptable in order to correctly guide my fui-ther actions. Had the 
Crown Prince been at Weissenburg on the 6th, this fact and the ad- 
vance of the Second and Third Army toward Nancy or Luneville would 
have compelled the enemy, deployed on an extended line, to leave the 
Saar and would have offered opportunity to the First Army to success- 
fully interfere. I fear now that the French will see an advantage 
gained for them by our taking a new position." 

General v. Moltke replied the same evening: 

No. 104 

To General of Infantry v. Steinmetz. 

Hq. Mayence, U August 1870, 8:45 P.M. 

Desired information concerning motives of King as to measures 
taken now en route by letter. The Crown Prince was already at 
Weisenburg on the 4th. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

In the preceding telegram G^ieral v. Moltke refers to 
the orders of 4 August, 12 :00 noon, see No. 103. In addi- 
tion, the request of General v. Steinmetz caused the follow- 
ing written explanations, which were sent at noon on the 

No. 105 

To General of Infantry, v. Steinmetz, 

Hq. Mayence, 5 August 1870, 6:00 AM. 

I thoroughly agree with Your Excellency as to the importance of 
your understanding and knowing correctly the motives on which are 
based the orders of the King to you. I therefore now have the honor 
to answer as follows to your inquiry of the 4th instant more in detail 
than could be done by wire. 

As already discussed in Berlin, I mean with Your Excellency in 
person, or in any case with your Chief of Staff and Chief Quartermas- 
ter, it is the task of the First Army, in addition to protecting the 
Rhine Province, to decisively intervene in the battle against the left 
flank of the enemy. 

This intervention, of course, cannot be executed independently, but 
must take place in conjunction with the Second Army. 

The point, where it may take place, is not only dependent on that 
army, but also on the movements of the enemy. 

The day when orders were issued for the concentration at Wa- 
dern, the Second Army was still so far in rear that contact on the 
other side of Kaiserslautern was probable, even certain. Therefore 
we had to be certain of the possibility of bringing up the First Army 
to Baumholder for the battle. 

Today it is still possible that contact will take place on the line 
Ottweiler — Homburg. At Tholey then the First Army would be in 
the correct position. 

Only when the Second Army has approached the Saar will the 
time have arrived to send the First Army across that stream. 

A separate advance of the First Army against the enemy, who 
appears to be closely concentrated with all his forces, could lead 
only to defeat. 

The combined movements of all three armies can be ordered only 
by the King and in those orders the freedom of executing them will 
be left entirely in the hands of the different army headquarters and 
they can act according to the situation. 

In the meantime General v, Steinmetz had also sent 
a telegram to the King on this matter, as follows : 

"Hq. St. Wendel, 5 August 1870, 1:30 A.M. 

General Moltke has informed me that a general offensive is in- 
tended and in the same telegram has ordered the concentration of the 
First Army at Tholey by your command. Today he informs me that 
the First Army will remain until further orders in its position at 
Tholey — OttWeiler — Lebach. On the other hand the Second Army in- 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

forms me that it will occupy the line Neunkirchen — Zweibriicken on 
the sixth. By this the Second Army gets ahead of the First, and as 
I have not received any orders concerning a further advance, I have 
no base on which to act intelligently." 

This caused General v. Moltke to give further explana- 
tions of his views on which the orders were based, to the 
First and Second Army : 

No. 106 

To Headquarters, First Army. 

Hq. Mayence, 5 August 1870, 12:30 P.M. 

The road St. Wendel — Ottweiler — Neunkirchen will be cleared to- 
morrow by the First Army. 

The 1st Army Corps is definitely assigned to the First Army; 
goes by rail via Homburg and detrains at Neunkirchen. Letter en 
route. Headquarters of line of communications and field raihoad de- 
tachment detrain in Birkenfeld commencing early tomorrovv morning. 

No. 107 

To Headquarters, First Army. 

Hq. Mayence, 5 August 1870, noon. 

In reply to telegram to His Majesty, First Army headquarters 
is informed that even if the leading elements of the Second Army 
reach the line Neunkirchen — Zweibriicken on the 6th, the assembly of 
that army will be completed only on the 7th, and the troops, if at all 
possible after their exhausting march, should receive a welcome day 
of rest on the 8th. 

Considering this, it is entirely correct for the First Army to re- 
main in its present position today and tomorrow, and merely clear 
the St. Wendel — Ottweiler — Neunkirchen road, which is absolutely 
necessary for the movement of the Second Army. 

However, on the 7th, the First Army, to which the 1st Army 
Corps (Hq. Birkenfeld) is permanently assigned by orders of the 
King, must approach to the Saar, using the Lebach — Saarlouis and 
the Illingen — Volklingen roads without creating unnecessary atten- 
tion, so near that, crossing the Saar, between Saarlouis and Volk- 
lingen, it will be ready after the 8th to take the offensive against the 
hostile left flank, while the Second Army simultaneously advances 
to the front. 

His Majesty especially reserves to himself the right to order the 
execution of such operation, as the commencement and the direction 
of it are dependent on the conditions which will have arisen at that 
time with the Third Army. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 108 
To Headquarters, Second Army. 

Hq. Mayence, 5 August 1870, 12:30 P.M. 

The St. Wendel— Ottweiler — Neunkirchen road will be cleared by 
the First Army. 

Headquarters lines of communications and field railroad battalion 
deti'ain early tomorrow morning in Birkenfeld, the provision column 
of the Hid Army Corps, now behind, in the succeeding night. Ad- 
vance of strong cavalry across the Saargemiind — Bitsch railroad de- 

Prussian railroads to be kept intact. 

No. 109 

To Headquarters, Second Army. 

Hq. Mayence, 6 August 1870, noon. 

His Majesty has ordered that the 1st Army Corps be permanently 
attached to the 'First Army, the VHth to the Third and the Hd to the 
Second Army. The latter will detrain between the 8th and 11th, proba- 
bly at Neunkirchen and Homburg. To facilitate the concentration 
of the 1st Army Corps it has also been ordered that the trains carry- 
ing this corps arriving from this afternoon on in Kaiserslautern, keep 
on through Homburg to Neunkirchen and detrain there. 

Headquarters of the First Army has received orders to imme- 
diately clear the St. Wendel — Ottweiler — Neunkirchen road and to 
echelon the army on the 7th on the Lebach — Saarlouis and the lUin- 
gen — Volklingen roads. The First Army will then be ready to sup- 
port, as originally planned, the operations of the Second Army, espec- 
cially by action against the hostile left flank. 

If further development of conditions do not require a different 
proceeding with the Third Army, the subsequent advance against 
the Saar from the intended position ordered by Royal headquarters 
v^'ill not be made before the 9th, and thus the larger part of the Sec- 
ond Army will have a day of rest on the 8th, which it stands in need 

His Majesty will probably transfer Royal headquarters from 
here to Homburg on the 8th instant. 

General von Steinmetz was not at all satisfied with the 
explanations furnished him by Royal headquarters and on 
August 6th he sent to General v. Moltke an additional let- 
ter stating his views as to the task of the First Army. This 
letter read : 

Hq. Hellenhausen, 6 August 1870. 

Your letter of the 5 August reached me at 2:30 A.M. today, 6 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

In reply I have the honor to state that I had no doubt at all con- 
cerning the task of the First Army as long as the Second Army 
endeavored to carry out its strategic march against the Saar; that 
task could only consist in facilitating the advance of the Second Army 
by drawing the hostile troops away from that army and onto the First 
Army'^ and when the Second Army could no longer advance without 
fighting, the First Army would have to effectively support the Second 
in any ensuing battle. With this idea was also conceived the recon- 
naissance on a large scale which was frustrated by orders from Royal 
headquarters for the First Army to march towards Tholey, and the 
position of the First Army behind the Saar — from Saarbrucken to 
SaarJouis — had been in consonance with my conception of the task; 
but now, drawing the First Army back to Tholey and possibly as far 
as Baumholder, leaves the enemy complete freedom of action behind 
the Saar and will increase the difficulties of advance for the Second 

The enemy has utilized the opportunity to fortify himself in his 
position from Saarbrucken to Forbach and appears to desire us to 
attack him in that position. The question now is, if and how we should 
do that. 

At the present time the troops of the First and Second Army, lit- 
erally speaking, stand arm in arm; that is, should the Second Army 
continue its march, the two armies would become mixed, or the First 
Army will at least become very much confined in its freedom of opera- 
tion. Therefore, and especially as the advance of the Vllth and Vlth 
Army Corps needed regulation, I was not able to evacuate the St. 
Wendel — Ottweiler — Neunkirchen road, as the troops to be sent to 
the westward might already have reached villages occupied by other 
troops, which would have entailed a complete rearrangement of quar- 
ters westward and also southward, considering that room had also to 
be made for the 1st Army Corps and the 1st Cavalry Division placed 
under my command in the meantime. 

The First Army, which has had to make two marches so far from 
Tholey to the Saar, is now within one day's march of that stream and, 
if the First and Second Army should make a combined attack on the 
enemy behind the Saar, has the necessary freedom of movement and 
has also regained sufficient room for the deployment of its troops.f 

For the subsequent operations after the enemy has been driven 
away from the Saar, it becomes necessary for me to know what direc- 
tion of operation is to be given to the Second Army. I assume that 
this direction will be toward NancyJ so that the First Army will not 
be forced toward the fortresses along the Mosel. 

The main reason for my request to be furnished this information 
was to find out whether His Majesty intended to order this or some- 
thing else, and I hereby renew my request, as my measures must 
necessarily depend on His Majesty's intentions." 

*Marginal Note by Moltke: — "This would have meant defeat for 
the First Army." 

Marginal Note by General Moltke: — "In place of overlapping 
the enemy it would be itself overlapped should it advance from Saar- 
briicken — Volklingen on Bolchen." 

IMarginal Note by General Moltke: — "Plans of operations, when 
in immediate contact with the enemy, can not be given to hold good 
for any length of time in the future." 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 110 

To THE Royal Minister for War 

Hq. Mayence, 6 August 1 


I have the honor to inform the Royal Minister for War that H. 
M. the King has ordered the formation of a combination corps of 
troops for special purposes in and at Kaiserslautern, which v/ill ba 
composed of the following organizations: 

1. The 3d Landwehr Division, so far attached to general head- 
quarters of the lines of communications of the Second Army, which 
accordingly will be detrained at Kaiserslautern. 

2. Infantry Regiments Nos. 19 and 81, stationed in and around 
Mayence, and the 7th Reserve Uhlan regiment, which will be started 
from here on the 8th of August by marching. 

3. The three reserve foot batteries now marching from Cassel 
to Mayence, which will be sent from here without a stop, by marching. 

In place of the 3d Landwehr Division, the headquarters of the 
lines of communications of the Second Army will receive the follow- 
ing troops, sent by rail to Mosbach, where they will detrain on and 
after the 10th instant. 

Landwehr Regiments Nos. 53 and 56, at present at Wesel, 
the Landwehr Regiments Nos. 16 and 55, at present at Minden, and 
the 5th Reserve Hussar Regiment, at present at Paderborn. 

There being no exact information concerning the vic- 
tory at Weissenburg on August 4, the following inquiry 
was sent: 

No. Ill 

To Lieut. General v. Blumenthal, Weissenburg, or 
wherever found. 

Hq. Mayence, 6 August 1870, 9:10 A.M. 

So far His Majesty has not received the smallest detail concern- 
ing the battle at Weissenburg, nor any information concerning our 
losses, while the French papers already contain these details. This 
must be immediately attended to. 

Even before Royal Headquarters had information of 
the battle of Spicheren on August 6th, the following orders 
were issued, based on reports of General v. Rheinbaben, 
commanding the 5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions: 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

No. 112 
To General of Infantry v. Steinmetz. 


f Hq. Mayence, 6 August 1870, 5 :Jt5 P.M. 


The enemy appears to be retreating from the Saar. His Majesty 
leaves it to your discretion whether or not to cross the frontier. The 
Saar must be crossed below Saarbriicken as the Saarbriicken — St. 
Avoid road belongs to the Second Army. Send reports here until 10 
A.M., to Ludswigshafen until 1 P.M., to Kaiserslautern until 4 P.M., 
and after 6 P.M. to Homburg. 

No. 113 

To Headquarters, Second Army. 

Hq. Mayence, 6 August 1870, 5:45 P.M. 

First Army crosses below Saarbriicken tomorrow to pursue the 
enemy. Desirable that in addition to cavalry the infantry of the 
Second Army also keeps at the enemy's heels. Saarbriicken — St. 
Avoid road belongs to Second Army. Send reports tomorrow [as in 

No. 114 

To Headquarters, Third Army, 

Hq. Mayence, 6 August 1870, 5:^5 P.M. 

Enemy appears to leave the Saar. First and Second Army in 
pursuit. Send reports tomorrow [as in 112]. 

A telegram from General v. Goeben from Saarbriicken 
at 6:30 P.M. brought the first information of the victory at 
Spicheren to Royal Headquarters ; General v. Moltke imme- 
diately asked by wire : 

No. 115 

To General of Infantry, v. Goeben. 

Hq. Mayence, 6 August 1870, 7 :h5 P.M. 

Please report approximate strength of enemy, and numbers of 
hostile regiments. Have prisoners been taken? 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Concerning the victory at Worth, 6 August, the follow- 
ing telegram was sent: 

No. 116 

To Headquarters First Army, Through General Goeben, 

Hq. Mayence 7 August 1870, 3:30 A.M. 

Third Army has gained new great victory on the 6th over Mac- 
Mahon and parts of Canrobert and Failly. Stand made there by the 
enemy as well as west of Saarbrucken makes it not improbable that 
strong hostile forces are still in readiness near the Saar. Recon- 
naissance by cavalry necessary. 

A copy of this telegram was also sent to Headquarters Second 
Army in Homburg, and a few hours later the following orders: 

No. 117 

To Headquarters, Second Army. 

Hq. Mayence, 7 August 1870, 8:15 A.M. 

Information only now received that after the victory of the 
Crown Prince yesterday at Worth, MacMahon retreated on Bitsch; 
may reach that place today; cavalry and left wing of Second Army 
may gain touch with him tomorrow possibly at Rohrbach. 

No. 118 
To Headquarters, Third Army. 

' SULZ. 

Hq. Mayence, 8 Augxist 1870, 3:30 A.M. 

So far but one telegram received from Sulz, the one dated 10:15 
P.M. Absence of most important information. Where was the battle? 
In what direction did enemy retreat? 

No. 119 
To Lieut. -General v. Blumenthal. 


Hq. Mayence, 7 August 1870, 9:30 A.M. 

Hearty congratulations on your brilliant success. 

Your first telegram of last night was not received here, therefore 
we learned but this morning that battle took place at Worth and enemy 
retreats on Bitsch. A telegram was at once sent to Second Army 
that MacMahon possibly could be reached tomorrow in the vicinity of 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

Rohrbach by cavalry and by the left winu' of the Second Army, in 
case he keeps the direction on Saargemiind which is still held by the 

There also was yesterday a very hot fight at Forbach against 
four divisions under Frossard, in which finally (at least the leading 
elements of) the 14th, ]6th, 5th and parts of the 6th Divisions took 
part. The main body of the Second Army intends to take a position 
today on the line Saarbriicken — Neu-Hornbach; the First Army will 
halt with its main body on the line Forbach — Volklingen and will pur- 
sue the enemy with cavalry only. 

Concerning intentions of hostile main force we have but rumors. 

The most correct measure undoubtedly would be a general offen- 
sive against our Second Army, which has not yet been able to con- 
centrate all of its corps, as all of its leading elements have contijiued 
on the march so far. Sti i, the French would encounter a superiority 
and such a step seems not in consonance with their conduct as so far 

Should the French main army retreat on Metz, it goes far away 
from MacMahon, leaves him to your pursuit and exposed to an even- 
tual flank attack by the Second Army. 

Should MacMahon be received, should the two French armies 
join, this could hardly be made at any other place than in the vicinity 
of Saarburg, where we will arrive about the same time. 

It is of importance to us to learn wether MacMahon marches 
to the west or to the southwest. 

As far as we can see conditions now, it appears to me to be the 
most correct procedure for the First and Second Army to advance 
now not against the Mosel above Metz, but first southward to join 
your army, as the next measure to be taken by the French main force 
must be in the»nature of reconnaissance. 

Concerning the parts of the enemy at Hagenau, possibly these 
are intended for garrisoning Strassburg, where at present there is 
hardly anything but garde mobile. You will have to leave back suffi- 
cient force to guard against them. It is very desii'able to take Hage- 
nau in the first panic. The siege train will be mobilized today. Siege 
of Strassburg can now be seriously considered; an advance as far as 
Vendenheim would secure to us utilization of the Strassburg — Nancy 
railroad. What you will have to leave behind will be relieved even- 
tually by a Landwehr division reinforced by two line regiments and 
one cavalry regiment. 

We are about to start to Homburg. 

No. 120 

To Headquarters, First Army. 

Hq. Homburg, 7 August 1870, 10:15 P.M. 

His Majesty orders that the First Army remain in position be- 
tween Saarbriicken and Volkingen tomorrow with the Vllth and 
Vlllth Army Corps, holding the heights of Spicheren against any 
attack. Orders for future advance can be given only after cavalry 
has gained definite information concerning enemy's whereabouts. Sec- 
ond Army also halts. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 121 

To Headquarters, Second Army. 

' Hq. Homburg, 7 August 1870, 11 P.M. 

His Majesty fully approves the measures to be taken on the 8th 
as outlined in the letter brought to these headquarters by Major Gen- 
eral V. Stiehle. 

Information received from the Third Army states that the hostile 
army retreated in the utmost confusion after the battle of Worth. 
Artillery tried to go into position at Niederbronn but was captured 
by the Bavarians. Enemy retreated on road to Bitsch, pursued by 
the cavalry, which captured four additional guns. Dead and wounded 
mark the line of retreat. Third Army reaches Niederbronn today. 
No parts of Failly's corps were present in the battle. As so far the 
cavalry divisions have not ascertained whether the enemy retreated 
from Forbach and Saargemiind on Metz or in a southernly direction, 
the First Army has received orders to remain in its position tomor- 
row and hold the heights of Spicheren. Thus the right flank of the 
Second Army is perfectly protected. 

The telegram sent by General v. Steinmetz [see No. 125] has 
been read to His Majesty. His Majesty is now considering the issue 
of a proclamation or general order to the French Nation. 

No. 122 

To Headquarters, First Army — Volklingen; Second Army — Blies- 
kastel; Third Army — Sulz, or wherever found. 

Hq. Hoynhnrg, 8 August 1870. 

His Majesty orders that all military reports, questions, and re- 
ports to army headquarters be addressed to me. 

No. 123 

To General v. Steinmetz, 

Volklingen, or where found. 

Hq. Hamburg, 8 August 1870. 

As so far no report has been received as to whether the enemy 
has evacuated Bolchen and Busendorf, the First Army must remain 
tomorrow in the position ordered for today. The Second Army will 
reach the Saar tomorrow with its last corps. Acknowledge receipt 
of this by wire. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 
No. 124 

To Headquarters, Second Army. 
St. Johann, or where found. 

Hq. Homhurg, 8 August 1870, 11 P.M. 

Will your headquarters be in Johann tomorrow ? What move- 
ments are ordered for tomorrow ? The Hid Corps can not detrain in 

No. 125 

Pencil draft in v. Moltke's handwriting for a letter 
from H. M. the King to General of Infantry v. Steinmetz. 

[No date; apparently 8 August 1870.'\ 

Replying to telegram which you sent on the 7th instant to head- 
quarters, Second Army, I call your attention to the orders which 
originally assigned to the First Army the direction of Saarlouis. In 
order not to isolate that army, but to cause it to await the arrival of 
the Second Army in a flank position, the First Army was held, by 
order of the 29th July and 3d August on the line Warden — Saarburg; 
thereafter around Tholey and Lebach. By the First Army extending 
its cantonments beyond the last named line as far at Ottweiler, it 
came into the march zone of the right wing of the Second Army, 
and consequently, by orders of the 5th instant, it was confined for its 
further advance to the roads towards Volklingen and Saarlouis. In 
spite of this the army took the direction via Guichenbach and Fisch- 
bach towards Saarbriicken — Forbach, a further advance to which line 
would be flanked by the enemy forces still at Bolchen. 

We therefore have to disapprove your views as expressed in the 
telegram to the Second Army, and emphatically declare that the 
Second Army advanced entirely in accordance with our views, which 
fact we have communicated to General of Cavalry, Prince Frederick 

No. 126 

To THE General Government of the Coasts. 

Hq. Homhurg, 9 August 1970, 9:10 A.M. 

After 4 P.M. today Royal Headquarters will be in Saarbriicken.* 

*This latter is a reply to a question if the lid Corps could not be 
detrained in Saarbriicken instead of Neunkirchen. 

*A11 telegrams as to change of locations of headquarters were 
sent to all headquarters and general governments. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 127 
To Headquarters, First, Second, Third Army. 

Hq. Saarbrucken, 9 August 1870, 8:00 P.M. 

Reports received justify the assumption that the enemy has re- 
treated to behind the Mosel and eventually Seille. 

All three armies will follow these movements. 

The Third Army receives for this the Saarunion — Dieuze road 
and connections south. 

The Second Army: St. Avoid — Nomeny road and south. 

The First Army: Saarlouis — Bolchen — Tennschen road and south. 

To protect the march the cavalry should be sent further ahead 
than usual and supported by advance guards thrown far to the front 
to give the armies time for closing up when necessary. 

Any change in the above march direction will be ordered only 
by His Majesty in so far as may be justified by the enemy's position 
or movements. 

The 10th of August may be utilized by the First and Second Army 
to give a day of rest to the troops or to start them on the roads as- 
signed to them. 

As the left wing can reach the Saar only by the 12th, the corps 
of the right wing will have to shorten their marches accordingly. 

No. 128 

To Headquarters, Third Army. 
Merzweiler, or where found. 

Hq. Saarbnlcken, 9 August 1870, 9:30 A.M. 

First and Second Army resume the advance on the Mosel on the 
10th; march direction of Third Army, right wing on Saarunion — 
Dieuze; cavalry ahead. 

No. 129 

To Headquarters, Baden Division. 

Brumath. (Same to Third Army) 

Hq. Saarbrucken, 10 August 1870, 10:45 A.M. 

Please inform the commander of the troops in front of Strass- 
burg that His Majesty orders him to prevent any and all trains carry- 
ing troops and supplies from the south reaching Strassburg. Complete 
siegv^ desirable; reinforcements for that are now en route.* 

* Assembled at Hagenau: 1 Landwehr Division (12 bns., 4 sqns., 
3 btrs.); 34th Fus. Reg., 30th Inf. Reg., 2d Res. Drag. Regt., 2 
Res. Batteries, 3d F. A. Regt. — a total of 18 battalions; 8 squadrons, 
5 batteries. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 
No. 130 

To His Majesty, the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. 

Hq. Saarbriicken, 10 August 1870, noon. 

The 1st Landwehr Division should be transported within the next 
few days to the upper Rhine. You should as soon as possible report 
location of the troops to the Executive Commission in Berlin, and the 
latter shauld also be directed to conform the travel to the schedules of 
the Line Commission. 

These headquarters should be continually kept informed as to the 
location of the divisions. 

No. 131 

To Major General Baron Schuler v. Senden. 

Hq. Saarbriicken, 10 August 1870, 3:30 P.M. 

3d Landwehr Division will be immediately started on the march 
to Saarlouis. Await further orders there. 

No. 132 
To Headquarters, First, Second, Third Army. 

Hq. Saarbriicken, 10 August 1870. 

To preserve order in the trains it is necessary for headquarters 
of the line of communications to confine itself to those lines which 
are assigned to each army, and to send to the rear, as far as prac- 
ticable, also by these lines, only trains cai'rying wounded and other 
things. All such trains must be reported as early as practicable 
to the Line Commission, and in any event the time of their starting. 

General Headquarters of lines of communications must at all 
times keep Superior Headquarters, the Line Commission, and the 
War Ministry informed of the location of their headquarters and must, 
in addition, direct all commanding officers of lines of communications 
to stop interfering with movements of trains. 

According to the regulations of the system of lines of communi- 
cations, which regulations must be strictly complied with, the Direc- 
tor of Railroads at Headquarters, Lines of Communications is the 
proper person to regulate railroad traffic. 

The following was added to the letter sent to Head- 
quarters, Second Army. 

*Commander of 3d Landwehr Division. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

It will be necessary to organize a special Line Commission for 
the roads from Neunkirchen westward and the Quartermaster Gen- 
eral of the Second Army probably will have to supply the needs of 
the First and Third Army. 

No. 133 

To THE General Government of the Coast District. 

Hq. Saarbrilcken, 10 August 1870, 7 :i5 P.M. 

After 5 P.M. tomorrow Royal Headquarters will be in St. Avoid. 

No. 134 

To General of Infantry v. Steinmetz. 
Supposed to be in Volklingen. 

Hq. Saarh-rilcken, 10 August 1870, 7:30 P.M. 

There are persistent rumors that Your Excellency has removed his 
headquarters today from Volklingen to Lauterbach.* 

So far no official report has been received here concerning this, 
nor of the movements of the First Army today, nor of probable 
changes in the position of the First Army intended for tomorrow; 
this information should be furnished without delay. 

No. 135 

To Headquarters, First Army. 

Hq. Saarbriictcen, 10 August 1870, 8:30 P.M. 

The following reports have been received so far from head- 
quarters Second Armv: 

The Hid Army Corps (right wing) reaches Falkenburg tomor- 
row and sends out an advance guard for the support of the indepen- 
dent cavalry. 

The leading elements of the IXth Army Corps are at Beningen 

The main body of the Xth Army Corps reaches Hallimer, sending 
an advance guard towards Gr. Tanchen — Landorf. 

The Guard Corps proceeds to Insmingen, its advance guard to- 
ward Altdorf— Wirmingen — Morchingen. 

*Later a report was received that headquarters had been trans- 
ferred there. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

The IVth Army Corps sends its leading elements as far as Hars- 
kirchen, its advance guard to the line Altweiler — Miinster — Mari- 

The leading elements of the XII Army Corps will reach Metzin- 
gen — Dieblingen — Wustweiler. 

Headquarters of the Second Army will be in Piittlingen. 

No. 136 
To Headquarters, First and Second Army. 

Hq. Saarhrilcken, 10 August 1870. 

To prevent misunderstandings it is hereby ordered that in addi- 
tion to the villages situated on the main highway from St. Avoid to 
Trittlingen, Falkenberg, Herlingen, Han-on-the-Nied, Nomeny, the 
Second Army will use for the purpose of requisitions only those places 
located within one [English] mile north of that road. 

No. 137 

To General of Infantry, v. Steinmetz. 

To be looked for starting from Lauterbach. 

Hq. Saarhrilcken, 11 August 1870, 6 A.M. 

Your Excellency's letter of yesterday'*, I received at 10 P.M. 

The occupation of Buschborn by the 35th Regiment is not at all 
in accordance with orders of the King concerning the advance of the 
armies and must be changed without delay. 

I shall not fail to submit Your Excellency's desire concerning 
the trains to His Majesty, but must state my conviction, that it is 
entirely impossible to allow the trains to march otherwise than on 
the roads on which the respective corps are marching. How bad it 
is to deviate from that rule is shown by the confusion which occurred 
yesterday on the road to Forbach, where the trains of the Illd Army 
Corps marched in addition to those of the Vlllth, Vllth and 1st, and 
where the IXth Corps is to march today. 

Finally, I again call attention to the fact that the three main 
highroads assigned to the three armies are to be taken only until 
the cavalry sends in information as to the location of the hostile main 
force. Then the three armies must not only concentrate within them- 
selves, but will also have to draw close to each other and at the pres- 
ent time it cannot be said whether the First Army will pass Metz — 
which in any case is but to be observed — on the south or on the north. 
For the purpose of such observation a Landwehr division — already 
mobilized — will be brought up. 

*In this letter General v. Steinmetz complained that parts of 
the Second Army were met on roads assigned to his army. He further 
requested authority in a further advance on Metz to concentrate 
the trains of the First Army at St. Avoid and to let them follow 
from there on the highway via Falkenburg. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 138 

To Headquarters First Army. 

To be looked for starting from Lauterbach. 

Hq. Saarbriicken, 11 August 1870, 10 A.M. 

H. M. the King has been in ignorance of the whereabouts of 
army headquarters and location of the corps of the First Army dur- 
ing the entire day yesterday until 10 P.M.; and today it is so far not 
known what movements are intended. H. M. the King consequently 
calls your attention to existing orders requiring daily reports to be 
submitted, so as to enable His Majesty to make proper dispositions 
of the corps at any moment, which is more and more necessary the 
closer the armies get to the enemy. 

Enclosed herewith is a synopsis of the reports received here from 
the Second Army which, in connection with the previously furnished 
sketch of the movements of the Second Army for today, will give First 
Army headquarters a base for its further movements. 

It has also been reported that trains of the First Army are on 
the road to Forbach. His Majesty orders that these trains be imme- 
diately taken off the road which was originally assigned for the trains 
of the Second Army. 

Finally concerning the request of the 8th instant for permanent 
assignment of railroad trains on the Rhine — Nahe railroad to bring 
up supplies to the First Army, His Majesty has decided that the 
First Army should first of all use the land transportation assigned it 
on the different routes and that support by railroad trains can only 
be had in case of absolute need. Proper i-equisition for rail trans- 
portation should in such case be submitted, stating actual amounts 
to be transported, to the Commandant line of communications, and 
to these headquarters only when ammunition is required. 


Synopsis of reports from the Second Army up to the 
evening of August 10 : 

1. Railroad bridges at Herny blown up. 

2. Small infantry detachments of MacMahon's Corps marching 
on Metz. 

3. This morning strong columns marching out of Metz towards 
Bolchen and Pange. 

4. Military trains coming from Chalons arrived in Metz night of 

5. Camp of two hostile brigades seen at Pange. 

6. Strong infantry and artillery columns are marching from 
Metz toward Courcelles, Mont and Pange. 

No reports have been received from the First Army. 

It can be assumed with a degree of certainty that a 
part of the French Army is going into camp on the French 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

No. 139 
To Major General v. Stiehle.* 

Hq. Saarbriicken, 11 August 1870, 10:45 A.M. 

Thanks for all your reports, the more so as we have not heard 
anything from the First Army. I cannot even tell you to what point 
the 1st, Vlllth and Vllth Corps are marching today. Proper steps 
have been taken to correct this matter. 

Position behind Nied undoubtedly only a position of observation, 
main army evidently behind the Mosel. Leave it to your judgment if 
the Hid Corps had not better halt to allow others to close up. 

No. 140 
To Headquarters, First, Second, Third Army. 

Hq. Saarbriicken, 11 August 1870, 11 A.M. 

Cases again have arisen of absolutely unnecessary destruction of 
railroads by our troops, and it is consequently necessary to issue 
the strictest orders forbidding the destruction of railroads and tele- 
graphs between the advancing armies and the enemy and to hold 
all organizations and officers to the strictest account in this matter. 

It is also necessary in our interests to at once occupy all tele- 
graph and especially railroad stations in all towns reached by our 
troops, to prevent their destruction by the population or individuals 
and to secure possession of removable material. 

No. 141 

To Headquarters First and Second Army. 

Hq. St. Avoid, 11 August 1870, 7 P.M. 

It is not improbable that a considerable portion of the enemy is 
this side of Metz on the left bank of the French Nied. Closer connec- 
tion between First and Second Army consequently becomes neces- 

H. M. the King has ordered the following: 

The Illd Army Corps at Falkenberg will be the supporting point 
for this junction of the armies. 

The First Army will march tomorrow in good time with two 
corps to the line Bolchen — Mohringen, with one corps to Buschborn. 

The Second Army will send the IXth Corps to Lubeln, west of St. 
Avoid, at which place the lid Army Corps, so far as it is available, 
will join. The Xth Army Corps will proceed (about via Lellingen) 
to the rear of the llld Corps. The Guard, IVth and Xllth Corps are 
to be dravv^n up towards the left wing of the above sketched position 
in such manner that they can join that position if required, or con- 
tinue the march in the direction of Nancy. 

*Aide to His Majesty and Chief of the General Staff of the Sec- 
ond Army. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

The outposts of the First Army will in general be advanced to 
the German Nied. 

All army corps will leave the second section of their trains in 
their today's location, leaving the roads completely clear. 

Tomorrow's location of headquarters of both armies will be re- 
ported at once. 

Additioii to letter for Second Army: Extract of above orders has 
been sent to headquarters Illd Army Corps in writing; and tele- 
graphic extract sent to headquarters IXth Army Corps. [See No. 

No. 142 
To Headquarters IXth Army Corps. 


Hq. St. Avoid, 11 August 1870, 8 P.M. 

His Majesty orders that the corps marches via St. Avoid to 
Lubeln early tomorrow. Second section of trains to be left there 
today, clearing roads. 

On the morning of 11 August, H. R. H, Prince Fred- 
erick Charles, Commander of the Second Army, sent the 
following letter to General v. Moltke, giving his views of 
the situation as then existing: 

Hq. Pilttlingen, 11 August 1870, 9:45 A.M. 
Your Excellency: 

I sent you a report from Saargemiind that the enemy appeared 
to have concentrated in dense masses behind the French Nied, this 
side of Metz. 

It appears as if this concentration of hostile masses will lead to 
a battle. It does not seem probable that the enemy will advance from 
his excellent position and attack us, although this wou'd be more in 
consonance with the French character than their heretofore defensive 
attitude. The enemy has not succeeded very well in his defense; it is 
reasonable to assume that he may now try the offensive. Although 
it is not very probable that he will do so I shall prepare for that event 
in such manner as to prevent him from attacking my corps separ- 
ately before the Second Army is concentrated, in so far as to preclude 
the possibility of my being defeated. 

The march of my army today is known to you. At its conclusion 
I shall hold my leading elements and will execute a turn to the right 
with my army (Hid Corps the pivot) only on receipt of the King's 

I would suggest that the First Army be informed of this and 
ordered to march in such manner that it keep touch with my Illd 
Corps — partly extending the front, if necessary, against the enemy, 
but that it especially endeavor to envelop the hostile left flank with 
strong forces. I would not utilize more troops against the hostile 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

front that what would appear necessary to hold him there — similar 
to the conduct of my army at Sadowa — and to prevent the enemy's 
piercing our center. I shall bring the main pressure to bear on the 
enemy's right flank, advancing toward there oflTensively and in strength 
and will have at least one corps follow as reserve in echelon to my 
enveloping movement. 

We still have provisions to last us for four or five days, thanks 
to the enormous supplies taken in Saargemiind and Forbach. Your 
Excellency, however, will do well to take the necessary steps to have 
supplies brought up tomorrow by rail to Falkenberg and also have the 
troops of the lid Army Corps, at least in part, transported by rail to 
that place or at least as far as St. Avoid, so as to be as strong as pos- 
sible in the battle. 

All my corps are good and will do their full duty. Everybody is 
eager to get at the enemy. The King can have full confidence in 
them in that respect. We must have to be prepared for enormous 
losses and for a two days' battle; although I do not entirely believe 
the latter to be the case, 1 shall prepare for it. We can go into posi- 
tion in daytime in the front of the enemy; the preparatory move- 
ments towards the flanks will have to be made at night on reconnoi- 
tered roads, no fires ought to be built and the battle should be started 
early — not later than 5 o'clock. God will be with us. 

In the evening the Chief of the General Staff of the 
Army replied: 

No. 143 

To H. R. H., Prince Frederick Charles. 

Hq. St. Avoid, 11 August 1870, 8 P.M. 

Your Royal Highness' letter of this forenoon was received by 
me at 6 P.M.; there was not sufficient time to send a reply with the 
messenger who carries instructions which have now become necessary. 
These instructions are based on the views of Your Highness, that 
a new mission of the army requires a forceful and sudden offensive, 
which is the only correct method, considering that our corps are di- 
vided in the area from Saarlouis to Zabern; however they only pro- 
vide the first measures to be taken in case of the probable attack 
against the Illd Army Corps. 

A full turn as far as Verny would not be necessary and would 
even be dangerous should, as is not impx'obable, the enemy's detach- 
ment retreat to behind the Nied and should his main force be south 
of Metz behind the Seille or Mosel. I hope that our plans are in con- 
sonance with your Royal Highness' intentions. By tomorrow after- 
noon we will have six corps assembled, two of them in reserve, and 
we can be ten corps strong by day after tomorrow.* Should this not 
become necessary, the IVth, XHth and Guard Corps would not have 

^Remark by Prince Frederick Charles: that means including the 
corps which have covered a day's march and which are not fresh. 

—249— ~""^ 

Moltke's Correspondence 

to be called up, in order to allow us to continue the advance against 
the Mosel in as much breadth as possible.* 

As nothwithstanding our haste the messenger leaves only now, I 
hand him this letter to carry along, asking your Royal Highness to 
pardon the hurried writing. 

Early on the 12th a supplement to the orders of the 
evening of the 11th, was sent to Hq. Second Army: 

No. 144 
To Headquarters Second Army. 


Hq. St. Avoid, 12 August 1870, 7 A.M. 

As up to this hour no reports have been received which make 
the direct calling up of the Xth Army Corps to the north of the Illd 
necessary, it is left to your discretion to send that corps farther west- 
ward if that can still be done. 

Presuming that Strassburg would be invested very 
soon, and supplementary to the orders of 10 August (No. 
129) the following two queries were sent: 

No. 145 

To THE War Ministry. 

Hq. St. Avoid, 12 August 1870. 

When and where will the siege train be mobilized and when ready 
to start? 

No. 146 

To Headquarters Baden Division. 

Hq. St. Avoid, 12 August 1870, 7:15 A.M. 

What measures have you taken in obedience to my cipher tele- 
gram of the 10th instant? Wire answer. f 

*Note by Prince Frederick Charles: This view will undergo a 
change as soon as Moltke receives information today that Nancy is 
free of the enemy and that masses have again been seen marching 
from Metz toward the Nied. 

fHeadquarters replied, that two infantry brigades were placed 
on the north and west sides and cavalry on the south side for the 
purpose of investing Strassburg; and that one battalion was at Kehl. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 
No. 147 

To Lieut.-General v. Fransecky. 

Hq. St. Avoid, 12 August 1870, 11:50 A.M. 

When will the lid Army Corps be assembled with its troops at Saar- 
briicken? When will the last trains reach there ?t 

No. 148 
To Headquarters, First Army. 


Hq. St. Avoid, 12 August 1870. 

The First Army can now get its subsistence supplies until fur- 
ther orders from the railroad depots at Forbach, St. Avoid and Fal- 
kenberg, in so far as they are not procured by requisition or carried 
on the army's own transportation. But the wagons sent to the above 
mentioned points must keep off the main highway Falkenberg — For- 
bach as much as possible. 

No. 149 

To Headquarters First, Second and Third Army. 

Hq. St. Avoid, 12 August 1870, 4:30 P.M. 

As far as can be seen from reports so far received, the enemy's 
main force is retreating through Metz across the Mosel. 

His Majesty the King orders: 

The First Army tomorrow the 13th instant advances against the 
French Nied, main body towards line Tennschen — Pange, and secures 
the railroad depot of Courcelles. Cavalry reconnoiters towards Metz 
and crosses the Mosel below there. Thus First Army covers right flank 
of Second Army. 

Second Army marches towards line Buchy — Chateau — Salins and 
sends outposts to the Seille; it will try, if possible, to secure the cross- 
ings at Pont-a-Mousson, Dieulouard, Marbache, etc. Cavalry recon- 
noiters to beyond the Mosel. 

Third Army continues advance towards the line Nancy — Luneville. 
Orders for its further utilization will be issued in the next few days. 

The trains can everywhere follow their ai*my corps as far as the 
Mosel and Meurthe. 

After 5 P.M. tomorrow Royal Headquarters will be in Herlingen. 
Send reports here up to 2 P.M. 

*Commander of lid Army Corps. 

fReply: At present lid Army Corps in triangle Neunkirchen — 
Homburg — Saarbriicken, except larger part of trains and columns; the 
latter still en route from Berlin to Saarbriicken and will be assem- 
bled in Homburg and Neunkirchen only by the 14th. 


Moltke's Correspondence 
No. 150 

To THE General Government, Coast Districts, 

Hq. St. Avoid, 12 August 1870, 5:30 P.M. 

After 5 P.M. tomorrow Royal Headquarters will be in Herlingen, 
west of Falkenberg. 

No. 151 

To Lieut.-General v. Kummer. 

Hq. St. Avoid, 12 August 1870, 5:30 P.M. 

All troops assigned to your command have been started to Saar- 
louis and vicinity, whei-e they will arrive on the 15th and 16th. Writ- 
ten orders sent by me to Saarlouis. [See next number.] 

No. 152 

To Lieut.-General v. Kummer. 

Hq. St. Avoid, 12 August 1870, 11 A.M. 

His Majesty the King has issued the following orders for the 
utilization of the detachment of troops under your command, who will 
be joined within the next few days, at Saarlouis, by the 3d Reserve 
Hussar Regiment and the 5th Reserve Uhlan Regiment — the brigade 
of Major General v. Stranz. 

It is the task of the 3d Reserve Division to hasten to Metz and 
prepare the siege of that fortress by temporary investment. Thion- 
ville is to be observed. In any event it must prevent operations from 
Metz against the communications of the armies continuing the ad- 
vance. Until arrival of the 3d Reserve Division at Metz, a detachment 
of the First Army* will remain in front of Metz and it will orient Your 

No. 153 

To Lieut.-General v. Fransecky. 

Hq. St. Avoid, 13 August 1870. 

Transportation by rail via Neunkirchen or Homburg of troops and 
trains of the lid Corps cannot be tolerated. 

*That army was directed to leave a division there. 
Excellency as to conditions in and in front of that fortress. At the 
present time it is not known of what the hostile garrison is composed. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

No. 154 

To General Government' of Coast Districts. 

Hq. St. Avoid, 13 August 1870, 11:30 A.M. 

Instructions have been issued to the Guard Landwehr Division that 
it must apply to the Line Commission in the matter of rail transport to 

It will receive its orders from Lieut. General v. Werder.* 
The division will be relieved in Hanover by Silesian Landwehr bat- 

No. 155 

To Headquarters First and Second Army. 

Hq. Herlingen, 13 August 1870, 9 P.M. 

According to information so far received large hostile detach- 
ments have halted at Servigny and at Borny on this side of Metz. 

His Majesty orders that the First Army remain tomorrow, the 
14th August, in its position on the French Nied and observe by ad- 
vanced guards whether the enemy retreats or advances to attack. 

Should the latter be the case, the Hid Army Corps of the Second 
Army will be sent tomorrow to opposite Pagny, the IXth Corps to 
Buchy in the direction of the Mosel (Pont-a-Mousson), where they 
will, provided they start early, be ready at a distance of 41 [English] 
miles to interfere in a more serious battle in front of Metz. The road 
from Herlingen via Buchy to Pagny is to be kept clear of all trains. 

On the other hand, the First Army is in a situation to prevent 
any advance of the enemy southward by a flank attack. 

The remaining corps of the Second Army will continue the ad- 
vance against the stretch of the Mosel from Pont-a-Mousson to Mar- 
bache. The Xth Corps will take position in front of Pont-a-Mousson. 

The cavalry of both armies must be sent ahead as far as possible 
and must interrupt a possible retreat of the enemy on the Metz — 
Verdun road. 

No. 156 

To Lieut.-General v. Werder. 

Hq. Herlingen, 14 August 1870. 

By orders of the King I have the honor to inform Your Excel- 
lency that the following troops assigned to your command have been 
brought up, or will shortly arrive, and are now ready at your dis- 

Fusilier Regiment 34 at Hagenau, for the present under the 
orders of Lieut. General v. Beyer; 

*v. Werder had been assigned to the command of the siege corps 
at Strassburg, and the Guard Landwehr Division was attached to that 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Regiment No. 30 at Hagenau; 

2d Reserve Dragoon Regiment at Hagenau; 

Guard Landwehr Division at Karlsruhe; 

1st Landwehr Division at Karlsruhe; 

One Reserve battery F. A. Regiment No. 1 at Karlsruhe; 

Two Reserve batteries F. A. Regiment No. 3 at Karlsruhe. 

The Grand Ducal Baden Division is already at Strassburg. The 
mobilization of the siege train, as well as of the required fortress 
artillery and fortress engineer companies is completed, and they will 
be brought by rail as close to Strassburg as possible. 

It is Your Excellency's task to capture this place as soon as pos- 

No. 157 
To Headquarters First, Second and Third Army. 

Hq. Herlingen, lU August 1870. 

The order of march of the artillery and trains, of themselves 
very satisfactory, is greatly interfered with by the carelessness of 
hired and requisitioned subsistence vehicles. 

Therefore His Majesty orders that the following points be strictly 

1. All vehicles on the march will keep on the right side of the 
road, and fully clear the left side. Vehicles or columns traveling at 
an increased rate and overtaking moving vehicles or columns going 
in the same direction will pass the latter on the right and close to 

2. Marching two vehicles abreast is allowed for batteries and am- 
munition columns, and that formation should be taken when the re- 
spective column of troops marches in readiness for battle, or when 
it can be ascertained by the commanding officers that no other col- 
umns travel on the same road in either direction. To march that 
way, of course the road must be broad enough to accommodate thx'ee 
vehicles abreast. 

3. Each column halting for any reason whatever or for feeding, 
must under all circumstances clear the road and park alongside of it. 
This especially applies to sutler vehicles, which must be at once 
driven off the road, taking care however not to illtreat the animals. 

4. All commanders of troops and all field gendarmes should again 
be directed to watch over the execution of the above orders and to 
punish all violators of same, or report them to their proper authori- 

No. 158 

To THE Minister of War, General of Infantry v. Roon. 

Hq. Herlingen, lU August 1870. 

Referring to your letter of the 12th instant; I have the honor to 
inform Your Excellency that by orders of His Majesty the 1st Army 
Corps and the 1st Cavalry Division have been attached to the First 
Army, the lid, IXth and the Xllth Army Corps to the Second Army, 
the Vlth Army Corps and the 2d Cavalry Division to the Third Army. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

The Guard Landwehr Division has received orders also to pro- 
ceed to Strassburg to reinforce the troops there, and it has been 
started by rail to Karlsruhe. This division w^ill be replaced in Han- 
over by Landwehr Regiments Nos. 23, 63, 22 and 62 and these latter 
will for that purpose be called up from Cosel and Glatz and trans- 
ported by rail from Frankenstein. 

No. 159 
Draft of Operation Orders for the 15th of August.* 

Hq. Herlingen, H August 1870. 

The First Army marches off to the left tomorrow, the 15th Au- 
gust, and takes position on the line Pommerieux — Arry, between 
Seille and Mosel, south of Metz. 

One division remains at Courcelles. It will take over the ob- 
servation of Metz, as long as only its proper garrison is assumed to 
be in and around that place; this division will be relieved as quickly 
as possible by the mobilized 3d Landwehr Division. 

For final support of the First Army, the right wing of the Second 
Army (IX and Xllth Army Corps), marching on Pont-a-Mousson, 
will be in readiness a mile away. 

Those parts of the 6th Cavalry Division which are still near 
Metz may be called back by the Second Army in the course of the 

The Second Army will resume the march to the Mosel. It is 
advisable to give troops a day of rest in rotation as the river is 
crossed; still headquarters of the Second Army must not fail to send 
cavalry, as strong as possible, and supported by infantry detach- 
ments as far as practicable, without delay towards the Metz — Verdun 

Depending on reports received from the First Army that Army 
can also, and on the shortest road, advance against that road. Cross- 
ings are to be at once reconnoitered below Pont-a-Mousson and pre- 

No. 160 


No date, apparently H August 1870. 

If reconnaissance show that large masses of troops are in front 
of and behind Metz — 

*These orders were not issued. It seems they were sketched out 
by V. Moltke in the expectation that by the evening of the 14th relia- 
ble information would be received that the largest part of the French 
army had arrived behind the Mosel. But as by 6 P.M. the situation 
as to the enemy had not yet been ascertained, and nothing was known 
at Royal Headquarters of the battle taking place in the meantime, the 
orders given in No. 161 came into force. The main points of these 
orders, however, recur in the orders for the 16th [No. 168], of course 
with due regard to the events on the 14th. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

First Anny. — Line Courcelles — Orny — Pournoy. 

Xllth Corps as support takes its rest day in Buchy-Solgne. 

Total 120,000 men. 

As soon as lid Corps arrives 150,000 men. 

Xth Corps rests today. On the 15th August at Gorze with 3d 
Cavalry Division. 

16th August five corps behind the Madine, that is on the left 
bank of the Mosel towards Metz, also 150,000 men. 

Third Aryny on the march to Paris. 

No. 161 

To Headquarters, First, Second and Third Army, as 
well as to Headquarters Illd, IXth and Xllth Army Corps : 

Hq. Herlingen, Hih August 1870, 6:00 P.M. 

Observations by the First Army have not resulted in any defin- 
ite clearing up of the situation in front of Metz. Still we may assume 
that the largest part of the hostile army is still this side of Metz. 

Considering that after exhausting marches the armies need a 
day of rest, and because such a day of rest can be taken by a part 
of the army corps with security against possible offensive under- 
takings from Metz, His Majesty the King hereby orders: 

The leading elements of the Illd, IXth, and Xlth Army Corps 
remain in their place tomorrow; these corps will close up within 
themselves and cook meals. 

The First Army also remains with the 1st and Vllth Army Corps 
in its present position; the Vlllth Army Corps, except that part de- 
tached via Bolchen to Bazoncourt — Alben for purpose of closer con- 
nection with the right wing of the Second Army, should be closed up, 
which at the same time will facilitate the subsequent necessary left 
flank movement of the First Army. There is no objection to the 
cavalry, especially the 3d Cavalry Division, going farther to the front. 

To better clear up the situation in the meantime it is absolutely 
necessary to advance on the left bank of the Mosel with larger forces 
against the connecting roads of the enemy, Metz — Verdun. 

This task the Second Army will assign to all the cavalry now on 
the left bank of the Mosel and support that cavalry in the direction 
of Gorze and Thiaucourt by those corps which cross the Mosel first. 

For this purpose the Hid Army Corps must prepare tomorrow 
a crossing below Pont-a-Mousson. 

The lid Army Corps continues its march in the direction it now 

The battle of August 14th made special orders neces- 
sary early on the 15th : 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 
No. 162 

To Headquarters Second Army. 


Hq. Herlingen, 15 August 1870, early. 

1st and lid Corps have, throuffh heavy fiechting, driven strong 
hostile forces into Metz. Parts of the 18th Division v^^ere also en- 
gaged. The IXth Corps will get close to the battle today. Disposi- 
tion as to the Hid Corps reserved. Pursuit important on the Metz — 
Verdun road. 

No. 163 

To Headquarters First Army. 

Hq. Herlingen, l-'y August 1870, early. 

His Majesty orders that the First Army today hold the terrain 
gained in yesterday's battle, as far as it is not within range of the 
fortress guns. The Vlllth Corps should at once be brought up to 
support the 1st and Vllth. The IXth Corps which already was en- 
gaged yesterday, will be dravra close to the battlefield. The leading 
elements of the Ild Corps will today reach Han on the Nied. His 
Majesty will proceed to Pange. 

No. 164 

To Headquarters IXth Army Corps. 

Hq. Herlinyen, 15 August 1870.* 

The IXth Army Corps will immediately advance with all forces 
to Peltre — Jury, to be ready for a hostile advance. His Majesty pro- 
ceeds to Pange. 

No. 165 
To General of Infantry, v. Steinmetz. 

Near Flanville, 15th August 1870, 10:h5 A.M. 

His Majesty having convinced himself that there are no parts of 
the enemy this side of Metz, the advance of the First Army is no 
longer required. The 1st and Vllth Corps have received orders direct 
from these headquarters to halt and to send ahead only cavalry for 
observation of the fortress and to protect the wounded. The Vlllth 
Army Corps, in so far as it has already started on the march, should 
proceed to Orny, where it will receive orders direct. 

*This order was received at 5 P.M. at corps headquarters. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 166 
To Headquarters VIIIth Army Corps. 

Near Flanville, 15th Atignst 1870, 10:^5 A.M. 

His Majesty having convinced himself that there are no parts of 
the enemy this side of Metz, the advance of the VIIIth Army Corps 
is no longer necessary. Should the corps be now en route, the march 
should be directed to Orny, via Pange. 

No. 167 

To Headquarters, Second Army. 

Near Flanville, 15 August 1870, 11 A.M. 

French driven completely into Metz and now apparently in re- 
treat on Verdun. All three corps of the right wing (Illd, Xllth, IXth) 
are now at the complete disposal of Second Army Headquarters; the 
Xllth Corps is already on the march to Nomeny. 

No. 168 
To Headquarters First, Second and Third Army. 

Hq. Herlingen, 15 August 1870, 6:30 P.M. 

As long as it has not been ascertained whether more than the 
regular garrison is in Metz, it will be necessary to leave one army 
corps of the First Army in the vicinity of Courcelles, which will very 
shortly be relieved by the corps under Lieutenant General v. Rum- 
mer coming up from Saarlouis. The other two corps of the First 
Army will take position tomorrow, the 16th, between the Seille and 
Mosel, about on the line Arry — Pommerieux. A crossing over the 
last named stream should be at once reconnoitered, provided that it 
has not already been done in that vicinity by the Illd Army Corps, 
in which case it will be kept intact for the use of the First Army. 

By telegram of 11 A.M. this date, the Second Army received 
free disposition of all its corps. An early report concerning its move- 
ments is expected, but in general the following is known: 

Conditions under which the 1st and Vllth Army Corps and parts 
of the 18th Division victoriously fought last evening preclude any 
pursuit. The fruits of the victory can be gathered only by a strong 
offensive by the Second Army against the roads from Metz as well as 
via Fresnes and Etain towards Verdun. It is left to Headquarters 
Second Army to conduct such an offensive with all available means 
at hand. Even if the Second Army gets for the time beihg ahead 
of the First Army, care will be exercised at these headquarters in 
arranging for a further advance westward, which steps cannot be 
foreseen at present and steps will also be taken to give the troops 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

all necessary rest. The leading elements of the Third Army today 
reached the line Nancy — Dombasle — Bayon; its cavalry is raiding 
towards Toul and south thereof. After 5 P.M. tomorrow Royal Head- 
quarters will be at Pont-a-Mousson; send reports here until 1:00 

No. 169 

Unsealed Orders for the respective detachments of both 

Hq. Herlingen, IS August 1870, 7:15 A.M. 

The IXth Army Corps shall today, if possible, cross on the bridge 
prepared by the Illd Army Corps in the vicinity of Arry, and in any 
case will approach close to the river. Therefore it is advisable that 
the First Army let that corps pass ahead, the bivouac of the Vlllth 
Corps should be changed accordingly. 

News of the battle at Vionville — Mars-la-Tour caused 
the following orders to be issued on the evening of the 16th 
of August: 

No. 170 

To Headquarters, First Army. 


Hq. Pont-a-Mousson, 16 August 1870, 5:00 P.M. 

The enemy retreating from Metz has been attacked today at 
Rezonville by the Illd Army Corps, coming from Gorze. The Xth 
Corps is being brought up from the west. In order to force the 
enemy into a northerly direction away from Chalons and Paris, and 
because he appears to be in considerable force. His Majesty orders 
that the two disposable corps of the First Army cross the Mosel im- 
mediately after the troops of the IXth Corps. Until the troops have 
crossed, the trains of all three corps must remain on the right bank of 
that river. 

The subsequent direction of the Vlllth and Vllth Army Corps 
will be regulated by Army Headquarters with due regard to bringing 
them into touch with the enemy as soon as possible. 

These headquarters will issue the necessary orders for continu- 
ing the march of both armies westward. 

No. 171 
To Headquarters, Second Army. 

Hq. Pont-d-Mousson, 16 August, 8:00 P.M. 

Headquarters First Army has received orders to cross the troops 
of the Vlllth and Vllth Army Corps over the Mosel immediately be- 
hind the troops of the IXth Army Corps tomorrow, and send them 
by the shortest direction against the enemy. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Proper formation of the First and Second Army, in the sense of 
a subsequent advance westward, can be attended to later; at present 
the most important point is to force as large a part of the hostile 
army awav from Chalons and Paris in a northerly direction and to 
pursue it to and into Luxemburg territory. 

The remainder of the Second Army may now halt and rest, and 
it will be sufficient if the crossings over the Mass are occupied by 
advanced leading elements. 

Before Headquarters Second Army had sufficient infor- 
mation concerning the seriousness of the battle at Vionville 
— Mars-la-Tour, Major General v. Stiehle wrote the follow- 
ing letter to the Chief of the Great General Staff, which be- 
fore the departure of Second' Army Headquarters for the 
battlefield, he left in Pont-a-Mousson to be handed to Royal 
Headquarters on its arrival. 

"Hq. Pont-a-Monsson, 16 August 1870, 2:00 P.M. 

I leave behind me a copy of Army orders just issued for the per- 
usal of Your Excellencv. 

The report of the Illd Corps at Vionville, dated 10 A.M., justifies 
the assumption that a strong detachment has been forced off and is 
retreating on Thionville; the Hid Corps has orders to pursue directly, 
advancing its left wing, to either force the retreating enemy into the 
fortress of Thionville or against the Belgian frontier. As such a 
possibility was foreseen, today's Army orders give the right wing 
of the Second Army (Xth, Illd, IXth Corps) a certain independence 
and leave dispositions of that wing in the hands of General v. Voigts- 
Rhetz, whenever His Royal Highness should not be present. 

I believe it is best to quietly leave the other four corps of the 
Second Army on the march towards the Maas from Bannoncourt to 
Commercy, to gain possession of the crossings there tomorrow. After 
that we undoubtedly will have to halt for several days in order not to 
emerge from the Argonne into the plain of Champagne with only 
some of our leadine elements. 

As reports of the cavalry state that Toul is only weakly occupied 
and little prepared, General v. Alvensleben has received instructions 
as to the importance of undertaking a raid against that place to se- 
cure our railroad connections, — we must be satisfied in merely calling 
his attention to this fact, we cannot order anything in th/e absence of 
definite information. 

Today and tomorrow we will get far ahead of the Third Army, 
an additional reason to halt on the Maas. 

Just received, 2 P.M. 

General v. Kraatz reports from Thiaucourt at 11:30 A.M. that 
the Hid Corps is fighting with strong forces at Rezonville. General 
V. Rheinbaben is there with nine regiments of cavalry and four bat- 
teries. The 20th Division is marching to the sound of the guns; noti- 
fication is being sent to the 19th Division. We ride to the spot via 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

General v. Moltke replied: 

No. 172 
To Major General v. Stiehle. 

Hq. Pont-d-Mousson, 16 August 1870, 8:00 P.M. 

According to our views the success of the campaign rests in 
driving northward the main hostile forces retreating from Metz. The 
more the Illd Army Corps has in its front, the greater the victory will 
be tomorrow, when the Xth, Hid, IXth, Vlllth Vllth Corps and 
finally the Xllth Corps will be disposable against the hostile force. 

Only when this main object is obtained will the First and Sec- 
ond Army be separated for a continuation of the march westward. The 
corps of the Second Army not now engaged may halt. 

A quick arrival on the Maas appears of minor importance, but 
the capture of Toul would be of great value. There is at present 
no necessity for the deployment of the three corps from the Second 

The day before the battle of Gravelotte — St. Privat the 
following orders were issued: 

No. 173 

To Headquarters First Army. 

Hq. Pont-d-Moiisson, 17 August 1870, 2:00 A.M. 

The Hid and Xth Corps held their positions yesterday. Never- 
theless support as early as possible, at daybreak, is urgently desirable. 

The corps of the Second Army, coming up, will have to cover 
larger distances than those of the First Army. Therefore it is neces- 
sary that the corps of the First Army start immediately, utilizing 
all available crossings (which probably has already been ordered). 

His Majesty will very shortly proceed to Gorze. where he expects 
to receive early reports. 

No. 174 
To Headquarters First and Second Army.* 

Hill sotith of Flavigny, 17 August 1870, 1:^5 P.M. 

The Second Army will fall in at 5 A.M. tomorrow the 18th and 
advance in echelons [the orders to First Army road read — advance in 
echelon from the left wing], between the Yron and Gorze creeks (in 
general, between Ville-sur-Yron and Rezonville). The Vlllth Army 
Corps will join this movement on the right wing of the Second Army. 
At the start the Vllth Army Corps will have the mission of protecting 

'Delivered by a general staff officer of Royal Headquarters. 

Moltke's Correspondence 

the movements of the Second Army against possible operations from 
Metz. Further orders from the Kino: will depend on the measures 
taken by the enemy. Send reports for the present to hill south of 

No. 175 
To General of Cavalry v. Manteuffel.* 


Hq. Pont-a-Mousson, 17 August 1870, 10 P.M. 

In the very probable case of the French Army executing an attack 
in superior forces on the 1st Army Corps, after the corps of Fros- 
sard, Decaen (successor to Bazaine), Ladmirault and the Guarde Im- 
periale w^ere defeated yesterday after a long and bloody battle by the 
Illd, Xth and parts of the Vlllth and IXth Army Corps at Vionville, 
it would be in entire accord with His Majesty's intentions, should 
Your Excellency, for the purpose of covering our communications, 
fall back in the direction of Remilly. 

Shortly before Royal Headquarters left Pont-a-Mous- 
son the following orders were issued early on August 18, 

No. 176 

To Headquarters, First Army. 
Ars ON the Mosel. 

Hq. Pont-d-Mousson, 18 August 1870, U:00 A.M. 

Nothing is changed in matters of command in the First Army. 
Direct orders from His Majesty may also today be expected to be 
received on the battlefield. 

The Vnth Army Corps will for the present assume a defensive 
attitude. Connection with the VUIth Army Corps can be sought only 
towards the front. 

Should it be ascertained that the hostile army is retx'eating into 
Metz, our corps will execute a turn to the right. 

Direct support for the First Army, should that become neces- 
sary, will be given by the second line of the Second Army. 

During the battle of Gravelotte-St. Privat the follow- 
ing orders and directions were issued by Royal Headquar- 
ters to the different headquarters : 

^Commanding General 1st Army Corps. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

No. 177 

To Headquarters, Second Army. 

Hill south of Flavigny, 18 August 1870, 9:20 A.M. 

There is an unimportant skirmish on the right wing of the Vllth 
Army Corps. The troops visible on the hills towards Metz appear 
to be moving northward, possibly toward Briey. It does not appear 
that the First Army requires more extensive support than can be 
furnished by the Hid Corps from Vionville or St. Marcel. 

No. 178 
To Headquarters, Second Army. 

Hill south of Flavigny, 18 August 1870, 10:30 A.M. 

Reports received justify assumption that the enemy intends to 
hold his position on plateau between Le Pont-du-Jour and Montigny- 

Four hostile battalions have advanced into the Bois des Geni- 
vaux. His Majesty considers it advisable to start the Xllth and 
Guard Corps in direction of Batilly in order to reach the enemy at St. 
Marie-aux-Chenes, should he march toward Briey — and in case he 
should remain on the heights to attack him from direction of Aman- 
villers. This attack would have to be made in conjunction with the 
First Army attacking from the Bois de Vaux and Gravelotte, the 
IXth Corps attacking against the Bois des Genivaux and Verneville, 
and the left wing of the Second Army attacking from the north. 

No. 179 

To General of Infantry, v. Steinmetz. 

Hill south of Flavigny, 18 August 1870, 12:00 noon. 

The battle now being heard is but a partial engagement near 
Verneville and does not make a general attack of the First Army nec- 
essary. The First Army should not let strong bodies of troops be 
seen, and in any case only its artillery for purpose of preparing the 
subsequent attack. 

No. 180 
To Headquarters, Second Army. 

Hill south of Flavigny, 18 August 1870, 1 :i5 P.M. 

The IXth Corps is now engaged in an artillery battle in front 
of the Bois Doseuillons. The actual general attack along the entire 
line will not be made sooner than important fighting forces can ad- 
vance from Amanvillers. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

The day after the battle (of Gravelotte-St. Privat) the 
following two orders were issued: 

No. 181 
To Headquarters of the First and Second Army. 

General Hq., Rezonville, 19 August 1870, 8 :Jt5 A.M. 

1. Burial of the dead and of dead horses will be carried out 
by the troops within their billet areas; the southern road from Metz to 
Verdun forming: the dividing line between the First and Second 
Army. The villages situated along this road are assigned to the First 
Army, including the lid Army Corps. This division of billet areas 
will hold good also for requisitions. 

2. *The Second Army is hereby directed to send one squadron to 
Pont-a-Mousson to Headquarters of Lines of Communications to be at 
the disposal of the C. O. thereof. 

No. 182 

To Headquarters of the First, Second and Third Army and 
TO H. R. H. THE Crown Prince of Saxony. 

On the hill in front Fort St. Quentin, 19 August 1870, 11 A.M. 

After the victorious events of the last few da^/s it is necessary 
and permissible to give complete I'est to the troops and to bring up 
replacements to fill up losses. It is in addition required that the 
armies will continue the march against Paris in one line in order to 
meet in sufficient strength new formations that may eventually as- 
semble at Chalons. Considering further that the French army, driven 
back on Metz, might make an attempt to fight its way through west- 
ward, it will be to the point to leave six army corps on the left bank 
of the Moselle, which can oppose such an attempt on the ridge that 
has been captured yesterday. One army corps and the Reserve Divi- 
sion will remain on the right bank of the Moselle which will fall back 
if necessary in case of a superior hostile attack. 

His Majesty designates for this investment the II, III, IX, and 
Xth Army Corps in addition to the First Army and 3d Reserve Div- 

His Majesty intrusts to H. R. H. Prince Frederick Charles the 
command of all troops designated for the investment of the French 
main army and further directs that the Guard, IVth and Xllth Corps 
and the 5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions will be under the orders of 
the Crown Prince of Saxony so long until the original army organiza- 
tion can be readopted. The staff of H. R. H. the Crown Prince of 
Saxony will be organized in compliance herewith. 

The ridge designated for the defense will be fortified and, for 
the rest, cantonments in rear as far to the Orne, can be occupied. 

*Par. 2 to the Second Army only. 

fThe commanding general of this division, Lieut.-General von 
Kummer, received direct orders (see next number). 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

The three corps, temporarily detached from the Second Army, 
will go into quarters on the other side of the Orne and the Yron. The 
Third Army will halt for the present on the Meuse. 

Headquarters of His Majesty remains for the present in Pont-a- 
Mousson, where one battalion of the lid Corps will be left. 

No. 183 

To Lieut-General von Kummer. 

General Hq., Pont-d-Mousson, 20 August 1870. 

I have the honor to inform your Excellency that, since the French 
main army has been forced by the battle of 16 and 18 August to 
withdraw into the fortress of Metz, it became necessary to designate 
a larger body of troops to invest that place. 

H. R. H. Prince Frederick Charles has assumed command of this 
investing army, and Your Excellency and your troops [see No. 182], 
will now be under direct orders of H. R. H., who has taken his head- 
quarters in Doncourt. 

No. 184 

General Hq., Pont-d-Mousson, 20 August 1870. 

1. Corps headquarters of the mobilized troops in the coast dis- 
tricts, the 17th Division (exclusive of ponton train) and the 2d Land- 
wehr Division will be sent by rail to Neunkirchen and Homburg. 

Their place will be taken by Landwehr Regiments Nos. 10 and 
50 from Neisse to the Province Hanover, and it is left to the dis- 
cretion of the General Government of the Coast Districts to also 
draw up the 3d and 43d Landwehr Regiments from Konigsberg as 
well as the 45th Landwehr Regiment from Graudenz and Thorn to the 
North Sea coast. 

2. A detachment will be formed to invest Thionville, to con- 
sist of: 

Inf. Regt. No. 65 (two battalions from the Headquarters of 
Lines of Communications of the First Army, one battal- 
ion from Cologne). 

28th and 68th Landwehr Regiments from Cologne. 

One heavy reserve battery of the 7th Regiment from Cologne. 

4th Reserve Hussar Regiment (from Neisse, Glatz and Cosel). 

Headquarters of Lines of Communications of the First Army 
receives in their place the 17th Landwehr Regiment f^'om Wesel.* 

3. The 3d Zieten Hussar Regiment will for the present be de- 
tached from the 6th Cavalry Division and placed under the orders of 
H. R. H. Prince Frederick Charles. 

*The different Governments, to which the above mentioned troops 
pertained, received corresponding orders. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 185 

To Lieut-General von Werder. 

MUNDOLSHEIM (in front of Strassburg) (in answer to query 
from General v. Werder). 

General Hq., Pont-a-Mousson, 20 August 1870, 7 :00 A.M. 


Bombardment of Strassburg from Kehl fully justified if capitu- 
lation can be reached by this means, which, however, cannot be de- 
termined here. 

No. 186 
To Major General v. Stiehle. 

General Hq., Pont-d-Mousson, 21 August 1870. 

Telegraphic orders have been sent to send 50 heavy twelve- 
pounders. Their arrival in front of Metz at Ars-on-the-Moselle will 
be reported by wire. 

I would call your attention to the fact that an eventual breaking 
through of the invested army in a northeasterly direction appears to 
us to be the least danger, while, on the other hand, its advance south- 
ward would cause us much trouble. Thereby the line Frossard — 
Strassburg would be pierced, which line receives an especial impor- 
tance in an advance on Chalons. Since the strength of the investing 
army has been brought to 11 army corps, a stubborn resistance should 
be made also on the right bank, at least in that direction. 

No. 187 
To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz. 

General Hq., Pont-d-Mousson, 21 August 1870. 

You will regulate all Lines of Communications matters for all 
troops around Metz, adhering as much as possible to existing com- 

In this you will count in general only on the railroad to Cour- 
celles, while that via Nancy of the Third Army Detachment remains 
under direction of H. R. H. the Crown Prince of Saxony. 

It is necessary for that army detachment to organize a provisional 
Line of Communications Hq. in connection with General Hq. of 
the Army Line of Communications, in which, under present con- 
ditions, Colonel V. Bliicher and his staff may be available in assum- 
ing the above mentioned arrangement of Lines of Communications 
matters General Hq. of the L. of C. of the Second Army had probably 
best arrange for its headquarters at Remilly. 

Thereupon the Second Army, which will soon be reinforced by 
four Saxon battalions, will have to detach to the newly organized 
Hq. of L. of C. of its L. of C. troops four battalions and two squad- 
rons, and these as much as possible to be taken from the troops 
in the first line. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

No. 188 

To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz, the First 
AND Third Army, as Well as to the Army Detachment of 
the Crown Prince of Saxony and Lieut. -General v. Werder. 

General Hq., Pont-a-Mousson, 21 August 1870. 

The French Government has ordered the mobilization of the mo- 
bile Guards (inc. the levies of 1869). 

These are to be concentrated in the main cities of their arron- 
dissements and their uniform is to consist of blue blouse with leather 
belt and a red cross on the sleeve, linen trousers and caps. 

Wherever such men are found, they will be treated as prisoners of 

You will instruct your subordinate headquarters and line of 
communication authorities accordingly. 

No. 189 

To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz, the First 
AND Third Army and H. R. H. the Crown Prince of Saxony. 

General Hq., Pont-a-Mousson, 21 August 1870, 11:00 A.M. 

Since a large portion of the French Army has been beaten and 
invested in Metz by 11 army corps, the Army Detachment of the 
Crown Prince of Saxony and the Third Army will continue the march 
westward in such manner that the latter will remain on the left of the 
former and in general one day's march away in order to attack the 
enemy, wherever he makes a stand, in front and on his right and 
push him to the north of Paris. 

According to reports received here only hostile detachments are 
said to be in Verdun, probably retreating on Chalons, but that at 
the latter place portions of the Corps of MacMahon and Failly are 
assembling, as well as new formations and single regiments from 
Paris and the west and south of France. The Army Detachment 
under the Crown Prince of Saxony and the Third Army will con- 
centrate against that point on August 26th on the line Ste. Mene- 
hould — Vitry-le-Francois. 

The former will start on the 23d instant and will march to the 
line Ste. Menehould — Daucourt — Givry-en-Argonne, where its ad- 
vance guards must arrive on the 26th. Verdun to be captured by 
surprise, or to be turned on the south, leaving an observation detach- 

The Third Army will start so that it will reach with its advance 
guards the line St. Mard-sur-le-Mont — Vitry-le-Francois on the 26th. 

On the 23d General Headquarters proceeds to Commercy, where 
the IVth Army Corps has left one battalion as garrison. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 190 

To General Headquarters of the Coast Districts. 

General Hq., Pont-d-Mousson, 22 August 1870. 

His Majesty the King has ordei'ed the formation of two reserve 
army corps, one of them to be concentrated at Berlin, the other at 

The Royal Government should issue orders as soon as possible — 
for organizing the former — for the rail transportation of the 1st, 
3d, 4th, 5th, 43d and 45th Landwehr Regiment and the 1st Reserve 
Ulan Regiment. 

No. 191 
To General Government of Posen. 

General Hq., Pont-d-Mousson, 22 August 1870. 

His Majesty the King has ordered the formation of two new 
reserve army corps at Berlin and Glogau. 

For organizing the latter, are designated: the 7th, 47th, 10th, 
50th, 84th and 85th Landwehr Regiments as well as the 1st Reserve 
Ulan Regiment, which has heretofore been placed at the disposition 
of the Royal Government, and, finally, the three reserve batteries 
of the Vth Army Corps. 

Home Headquarters of the IVth Army Corps will order the trans- 
portation of the 84th and 85th Landwehr Regiments. 

By leaving to the discretion of the Royal General Government all 
details, it is remarked that, until complete organization of the corps, 
the respective troop units are to be placed under orders of the immo- 
bile commands of the home headquarters of the Vth Army Corps. 

No. 192 

To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz, the First 
AND Third Army, and the Crown Prince of Saxony. 

General Hq., Pont-d-Mousson, 22 August 1870. 

His Majesty the King permits that, deviating from general 
regulations, all troop commanders are allowed to have medicinal 
carts follow the troops directly on the march when an engagement is 

No. 193 

To Headquarters of the Army in Front Metz, the First and 
Third Army, the Crown Prince of Saxony, and to Lieut. - 
General v. Werder. 

General Hq., Pont-d-Mousson, 22 August 1870. 

Formation of Volunteer Corps has been started in all Depart- 
ments. Their appellation is "franctireurs." 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 


Cap, blue, with narrow red band, 

Light civilian blouse. 

Red wool belt (ceinture) 

Linen trousers with white leggins, haversack. 


Carbine (d la tabatiere) , bayonet. 

According to information received, the task of these men is to 
take all dispersed soldiers by surprise and shoot them. 

But, as the franctireurs themselves are no soldiers, they are 
amenable — according to Paragraph 2 of the Proclamation, — to mili- 
tary law and death. 

No. 194 
To H. R. H. Prince Frederick Charles. 


General Hq., Pont-a-Mousson, 22 August 1870. 

I have the honor to reply to Your Royal Highness, that so far 
it has not been possible to assign a number of general staff offi- 
cers from those still remaining at home to the field army, nor to 
still more weaken the working staff of these headquarters by detach- 
ing Captain von Biilow. In order to meet the wishes of Your Royal 
Highness as much as possible. Major von HoUeben will be detailed to 
the staff of the Crown Prince of Saxony. 

We are fully aware of the difficulties and bad features of the 
very important task that has fallen to your lot, but they may be 
of only short duration. Should the enemy succeed in breaking through, 
his attempt will probably be made in the direction of Nancy, then 
the war of investment will immediately turn into mobile war. As 
we may with assurance count on most energetic pursuit, in such 
a case, according to my opinion, the advance of the other two armies 
should proceed without interruption. 

If the French army in Metz is not able to fight its way through, 
it surely cannot hold out long there, in view of the impossibility of 
relief, and then Your Royal Highness would achieve, with its capitu- 
lation, one of the most important successes shown by military history. 

No. 195 

To THE General Government of the Coast Districts. 

Hq., Pont-d-Mousson, 22 August 1870, 11:30 A.M. 

Send messages for His Majesty to this place up to 10:00 A.M. 
tomorrow, thereafter to Commercy. 

*Answer to a private letter from the Prince, the contents of 
which can be gleaned from this answer. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 196 
To Lieutenant General von Blumenthal. 


General Hq., Commercy, 23 August 1870, 3:00 A.M. 

In reply to your letter of the 22d instant enclosing the march 
tables for the Third Army for the next succeeding days, I have the 
honor to state that it would correspond with His Majesty's inten- 
tions, if, in general, and on the 26th, the cavalry divisions would 
remain in front of the army. According to reports we have here it 
is not impossible that the hostile army, assembled to Chalons, is 
about to march off. In that case it would be desirable to ascertain 
the correct march direction of the enemy through cavalry sent far 
out and also sent south of Chalons, and in which case these headquar- 
ters will reserve the right to change the marches to be made by the 
entire Third Army on the 26th. For the same reasons, and in order 
to secure more roads for further advance, it is left to your discre- 
tion, whether it is possible to send the Vlth Corps towards Join- 
ville as early as tomorrow, as it, if necessary, could then be drawn 
the day after tomorrow to St. Dizier. 

No. 197 

To Headquarters, Army Detachment of H. R. H. the Crown 
Prince of Saxony. 

General Hq., Commercy, 23 August 1870. 

I have the honor to inform you that these headquarters will be 
in-Bar-le-Duc tomorrow. Send messages to this place until 10 o'clock. 

You are also requested to submit the march tables of your detach- 
ment for the next few days as soon as possible. 

No. 198 

To Headquarters of the First Army. 

General Hq., Commercy, 2h August 1870, 7:00 A.M. 

His Majesty permits that, considering the great distance from 
your headquarters to headquarters of the First Army, that the two 
daily reports may be omitted. However, these headquarters expect 
that, in so far as telegraphic communication exists, you will im- 
mediately report everything important. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

No. 199 
To H. R. H., THE Crown Prince of Saxony. 

General Hq., Commercy, 2U August 1870, 7 :00 A.M. 

According to a report received here, Emperor Napoleon is said 
to be in Reims with a portion of the fighting forces. On the other 
hand, a letter from a high ranking French officer in Metz, intercepted 
by the Second Army, indicates that Metz counts with certainty on 
relief by the troops concentrated at Chalons. This attaches an in- 
creased importance to the Reims — Longuyon— Thionville railroad. 
Thorough interruption of that road at several points is desirable, 
as well as observation by the cavalry towards Reims. 

No. 200 
To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz. 

General Hq., Commercy, 2U August 1870, 7 :00 A.M. 

According to a report received here. Emperor Napoleon is said 
to be in Reims with a portion of his fighting forces, while Metz is 
counting on relief from the troops concentrated at Chalons. This 
attaches increased importance to the Reims — Longuyon — Thionville 
railroad. The Crown Prince of Saxony has been directed to have 
thorough destruction of that road made in his zone, and it is left to 
your discretion to take similar steps. 

At the same time you are informed that a detachment consisting 

The 65th Infantry Regiment 
The 28th and 68th Landwehr Regiments 
One reserve battery from Cologne 
The 4th Reserve Hussar Regiment* 
will be concentrated in the next few days at Saarburgf under com- 
mand of Major General von Bothmer (heretofore commandant in 

General von Bothmer has been directed to await orders from 
your headquarters in Saarburg. In so far as a mere observation of 
Thionville from there is considered sufficient, the above troops can 
be utilized in front of Metz, in which case, according to our views, 
reinforcement of the position on the right bank of the Moselle above 
Metz seems advisable. 

No. 201 

To ALL Armies and the Army Detachment Under H. R. H. the 
Crown Prince of Saxony. 

General Hq., Commercy, 2U August 1870. 

The case has arisen that French surgeons released from hospitals 
have been sent from the rear through another army directly towards 

*Major General von Bothmer and the 4th Reserve Hussar Regi- 
ment in Neisse received orders direct, 
fin the Rhine Province, near Trier. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

the enemy. On this it is remarked that it is not permissible to ar- 
range for the return of surgeons, guaranteed them by the Geneva 
Convention, to their army, in such manner that thereby the secrecy 
of our movements is endangered. Consequently surgeons, etc., will 
be sent back by a detour, for instance, across neutral ground, or only 
after a phase of the operations has been completed. 

No. 202 

To Headquarters, Third Army. 


General Hq., Bar-le-Diic, 2^ August 1870. 

Replying to your letter of today, your headquarters is requested, 
to transmit to these headquarters and to the Army Detachment of 
the Crown Prince of Saxony the parole and counter-sign given out 
today by your headquarters. 

The above named detachment has been directed that the parole 
and counter-sign of the Third Army will be in force there also.* 

Reports received at General Headquarters up to the 
evening of August 24th, concerning the Army under Mac- 
Mahon, stated that that army was marching from Chalons 
towards Reims, but left doubt as to the purpose of that 
movement. Therefore General von Moltke decided to give 
to the further march of the German armies such a direction 
that a turn could be made against Reims, but at the same 
time adhering to the general direction on Paris without 
material loss of time. For this purpose he composed the 
following orders, which however were not issued on account 
of reports coming in during the night of August 24-25th: 

No. 203 

To Headquarters of the Army Detachment Under H. R. H. 
THE Crown Prince of Saxony, Monthairon, and Third Army 
at Ligny. 

General Hq., Bar-le-Duc, 2h August 1870, 7:00 A.M. 

As it has been ascertained that Chalons also has been evacuated 
by the French, His Majesty the King desires that a day of rest be 
granted the troops at suitable points on the 26th or 27th. 

*In front of Paris, General Headquarters issued the parole and 
counter-sign in common for the Third Army and Army of the Meuse, 
and from and after November 24th, in consequence of the close touch, 
in which both armies found themselves, the same for all (i. e. also 
for the First and Second Army). 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

The trains will be brought up, and provisions should be brought 
up in sufficient quantities so that barren portion of the Champagne 
can be traversed without delay. 

Advance guards must, on August 28th, be on the line Suippes 
— Chalons — Coole, or south thereof. 

For this advance, the left wing Army Detachment under H. R. 
H. the Crown Prince of Saxony, is assigned to the Laheycourt — Out- 
rieviere Ferme — Poix — Chalons road; and the Third Army, as right 
wing is assigned the Nettancourt — Possesse — Togny-aux-Boeufs road. 

The Army Detachment camps (quarters) and requisitions right 
of the two designated roads and in their vicinity (2 km) ; the Third 
Army on the left thereof. 

Conditions will decide thereafter if and in what force our fight- 
ing forces will execute a right turn against Reims, or continue the 
march against Paris in full force. 

The cavalry will reconnoiter far to the front, that of the right 
wing especially early tomorrow into the terrain toward the Bel- 
gian frontier, with early observation against Montmedy and Sedan, 
and thereafter reconnoiter towards Reims, Rethel and Mezieres, in 
which, if possible, the Reims — Laon railroad is to be interrupted. 

No. 204 

To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz. 

General Hq., Bar-le-Duc, 2U August 1870, 8:00 A.M. 

Chalons evacuated by the enemy. We continue the advance, secur- 
ing our right wing. 

Reports received at General Headquarters during the 
night of August 24-25th confirmed anew the march of the 
French Army towards Reims and indicated the enemy's 
intention — heretofore believed improbable — to march along 
the Belgian frontier to the relief of Metz. But as there 
was no assurance as yet that this was an actual fact, Gen- 
eral Headquarters decided to turn for the present more 
northwestward and to observe with more vigor conditions 
on the right flank. For this General von Moltke issued the 
following orders : 

No. 205 

To Headquarters of the Third Army, Alliancelles, and Army 
Detachment Under H. R. H. the Crown Prince of Saxony. 

General Hq., Bar-le-Duc, 25th August 1870, 11:00 A.M. 

All reports received here confirm that the enemy has evacuated 
Chalons and is marching on Reims. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

His Majesty the King directs that the Army Detachment under 
H. R. H. The Crown Prince of Saxony and the Third Army follow 
this movement by continuing the march in a northwesterly direction. 

The former will start tomorrow with its Xllth Army Corps to- 
wards Vienne (advance guards Autry and Servon), with its Guard 
Corps towards Ste. Menehould (advance guards Vienne-la-Ville and 
towards Berzieux), with its IVth Army Corps towards Villers-en- 
Argonne (advance guard towards Dommartin). The cavalry will 
be sent far ahead to reconnoiter the front and right flank and will 
especially reach Vouziers and Buzancy. 

The Third Army proceeds tomorrow with its leading elements 
as far as the line Givry-en-Argonne — Chagny northeast of Vitry. 

The latter place will be observed. 

If very important information is not received, the armies will be 
granted a day of rest on the 27th. This may be used to bring up the 
trains and for regulating subsistence matters, so that no difficulties 
will be encountered in the subsequent crossing of the barren Cham- 

General Headquarters proceeds tomorrow to Ste. Menehould. 
Send reports here until 10:00 A.M. 

As the left wing of the IVth Army Corps came into very- 
close touch in its advance with the Bavarian lid Corps, which 
led to disputes as to the occupation of villages, General von 
Alvensleben, commanding the IVth Army Corps, asked the 
Chief of the General Staff for instruction direct, as the dis- 
tance to the Headquarters of the Crown Prince of Saxony 
was too great for speedy decision. 

General von Moltke sent his inquiry by the following 
indorsement to the lid Bavarian Corps: 

No. 206 

To THE Bavarian IId Army Corps. 

General Hq., Bar-le-Duc, 25 August 1870. 

To the Royal Corps Headquarters requesting a line of march be 
left free to the IVth Royal Prussian Army Corps. 

That army corps will march tomorrow to Villers-en-Argonne, 
and to avoid further collision, the Royal Bavarian II. Army, which 
presumably will tomorrow continue the march to Givry en Argonne, 
will extend to the right not farther than the line Noyers — Sommeeille 
— Le Chatelier. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

No. 207 

To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz. 


General Hq., Bar-le-Duc, 25 August 1870, 7 :10 A.M. 

We have no reports from you since day before yesterday. Re- 
quest telegraphic report of anything new there. Desire written re- 
port in detail of your positions. 

General von Stiehle replied that telegraphic reports 
had been sent daily and that a mounted messenger was then 
enroute with a written report. 

Awaiting receipt of certain information as to the direc- 
tion of march of the Army of Chalons, General von Moltke 
utilized the time in sketching out the following march table 
for concentrating the Army of the Meuse, the two Bavarian 
Corps of the Third Army and two corps of the Army invest- 
ing Metz in the vicinity of Damvillers on the right bank of 
the Meuse, by which MacMahon's advance on Metz could be 

No. 208 


General Hq., Bar le Due, 25 August 1870. 

If by evening the 25th information is received that the envelop- 
ment has started on the 23d and has progressed by that time to 
Vouziers, then: 

Corps 26th 27th 28th 29th 


Seven army corps — 150,000 infantry. 

The preceding draft was at the same time to serve as 
basis for the subsequent movements of the German armies. 
For as early as the evening of August 25, 1870 General 
Headquarters received further reports — among others a 
telegram from London with the information taking from 
the Temps of the 23d of the sudden decision of MacMahon 




sventual retreat on 







west of Verdun 







Land res 











Moltke's Correspondence 

to hasten to the help of Bazaine — which indicated a prob- 
able advance of the French army on Vouziers. It is true 
that all doubts about this were not yet dispersed and es- 
pecially there were as yet no reports at hand from the Ger- 
man cavalry as to being in touch with the enemy, but the 
question was to act so as not to lose the right moment to get 
ahead of MacMahon's army. And thus, in the course of 
the night all initial orders were issued so as to be able to 
start off as early as possible on the 26th northward with 
the Army Detachment and the two Bavarian Corps — pre- 
supposing that the cavalry sent towards Vouziers and Buz- 
ancy would confirm the approach of the enemy toward Metz. 

No. 209 

To Headquarters Army Detachment Under H. R. H. the Crown 
Prince of Saxony. 

General Hq., Bar-le-Duc, 25 August 1870, 11:00 AM. 

A report just received makes it appear not improbable that 
Marshal MacMahon has arrived at the decision to attempt the relief 
of the hostile main army in Metz. He would consequently have 
been on the march from Reims since the 23d instant; and in that 
case his leading elements might reach Vouziers today. 

In that case it becomes necessary to concentrate the Army 
Detachment under H. R. H., The Crovi^n Prince of Saxony toward the 
right wing and probably in such manner that the Xllth Corps marches 
on Varennes while the Guard and IVth Corpg approach the Varennes 
— Verdun road. The Bavarian 1st and lid Corps will eventually fol- 
low that movement. 

However, the start for this movement depends on the reports 
which H. R. H. The Crown Prince of Saxony may have by this 
time and for which we can not wait here.f 

The Guard and the IVth Corps have received orders from these 
Headquarters not to start the march ordered today for tomorrow 
morning, but to cook meals and await further orders for the march. 

* Headquarters of the Third Army received a copy of this with 
the note that the Bavarian 1st and lid Corps had received orders 
direct to halt; that the Vth, Vlth and Xlth Corps continue on the 
march as directed heretofore; that General Headquarters reserved 
the right to draw these corps subsequently up in the direction of Ste. 

fLieut. -Colonel von Verdy of the general staff was sent to Fleury 
during the night to explain the views held at General Headquarters 
and consequent intentions. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

No. 210 

To Headquarters of the Guard Corps, Thiaucourt, Headquar- 
ters OF the IVth Army Corps, Laheycourt, and Headquar- 
ters 1st* and IId Army Corps. 

General Hq., Bar-le-Diic, 25 August 1870, 11:00 P.M. 

The corps will not start the march as ordered for tomorrow, but 
will cook meals early and wait: 

Guard Corps and IVth Corps for orders from H. R. H., Crown 
Prince of Saxony; Bavarian 1st and lid Corps, for further orders to 
commence the march. 

Although on the morning of August 26th there was no 
confirmation of the supposed march of the French army on 
Metz, that fact appeared to be very probable. Therefore, 
in consultation between General Headquarters and Head- 
quarters of the Third Army in Bar-le-Duc it was left to the 
discretion of the latter whether to now start the march to 
the right with the Third Army, in so far as the following 
orders, issued in the meantime, would permit: 

No. 211 

To Headquarters of the IVth, Guard, and Bavarian 1st and 
IId Army Corps. 

General Hq., Bar-le-Duc, . 26 August 1870, 12:00 noon. 

Reports received make it appear very probable that the army 
under Marshal MacMahon is concentrating at Vouziers. 

His Majesty directs that the Army Detachment under H. R. H., 
The Crown Prince of Saxony and the 1st and IId Bavarian Army 
Corps start immediately on the march in that direction. 

The Xllth Army Corps and the 5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions are 
already on the march. The Guard Corps marches towards Dombasle; 
one battalion of the Xllth Army Corps remain in Clermont as Gen- 
eral Headquarters guard. The IVth Army Corps marches to Fleury. 
The Bavarian 1st Army marches to Erize-la-Petite, the IId Bavarian 
Army Corps to Thiaucourt. 

The troops will start after finishing cooking, will carry provi- 
sions for three days, and will leave trains that are not immediately 
required behind under a sufficient guard. 

General Headquarters proceeds this afternoon to Clermont. 

* Headquarters 1st Bavarian Army Corps was also in Bar-le-Duc, 
and consequently received these orders verbally. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

The above orders were sent to Headquarters Army De- 
tachment, and Headquarters Third Army for their informa- 
tion; Headquarters of the Army in front of Metz receiving 
a copy with the following addition : 

No. 212 
To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz. 

General Hq., Bar-le-Duc, 26 August, 12:00 noon. 

It is our intention to send the Xllth Corps tomorrow, the 27th, 
from Verennes by way of Dun to behind the Meuse; on the 28th 
the Guard and the IVth Army Corps, followed by the two Bavarian 
army corps, will reach the vicinity of Damvillers. His Majesty di- 
rects that the investing army detach two army corps and send them 
so that they also will, without fail, reach the vicinity of Damvillers 
— Mangiennes, for which they will probably not have to start until 
the 27th. 

It is left to the discretion of your Headquarters to make all ar- 
rangements so that, even if the investment on the right bank of the 
Moselle has to be temporarily abandoned, the enemy's breaking through 
towards the west will be prevented. 

The 5th, 6th and 12th Cavalry Divisions, sent today towards 
Vouziers, should bring exhaustive and sui'e information of condi- 
tions there. 

Telegraphic connection with General Headquarters will be 
established today as far as Erize-la-Petite (Fork of Clermont — Bar- 
le-Duc and Clermont— St. Mihiel roads). 

From that point runs a relay line. 

The following orders were issued to the Corps under 
the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg, the leading elements of 
which reached, on August 26th, Homburg — Neunkirchen: 

No. 213 

To H. R. H. THE Grand Duke of Mecklenburg. 

General Hq., Bar-le-Duc, 23 August 1870, 10:00 A.M. 

The corps will immediately start by echelons for Metz and will 
report for orders to General Steinmetz, Headquarters Jouy-aux-Ar- 
ches at Ars-on-the-Moselle. Acknowledge receipt of these orders by 

*Prince Frederick Charles and General von Steinmetz received 
copies of these orders. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

To secure the railroad communications to the rear 
the commandant of the Field Railway Service received the 
following orders : 

No. 214 

To Director Weishaupt, Pont-A-Mousson or Nancy R. R. De- 

Hq. Bar-le-Duc, 26 August 1870, 11:30 A.M. 

Expectations for taking Toul increase. Vitry is ours. Construc- 
tion this side of Toul more and more important and should be has- 
tened. We proceed today to Clermont; R. R. station Bar-le-Duc very 
large and in excellent shape. General Stosch will give full authori- 
zation for removal of interruptions in rear. 

General Headquarters proceeded to Clermont in the 
afternoon of 26 August. As in the meantime communica- 
tions had been established by wire between Headquarters 
of Prince Frederick Charles in Doncourt and General Head- 
quarters as far as Erize-la-Petite, General von Moltke was 
enabled to send in the evening the following orders by re- 
lay and wire: 

No. 215 

To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz. 

General Hq., Clermont, 26 August 1870, 7:00 P.M. 

General Headquarters now in Clermont. Orders enroute by 
mounted messenger [see No. 212]. Troop movements orders will not 
be started before Saturday noon (August 27th). By then we will 
probably have better information. Acknowledge receipt by wire. 

Finally, in the course of the evening reports were re- 
ceived from the cavalry of the Army Detachment, accord- 
ing to which hostile troops of all arms had reached Grandpre 
but had not yet reached the Meuse line. Thus, it became 
absolutely certain that MacMahon was marching on Metz. 
Therefore, by direction of His Majesty, General von Moltke 
issued verbal orders at 11:00 P.M. to Major General von 
Schlotheim, chief of staff of the Army Detachment, Head- 
quarters of which was also in Clermont, to continue the 


Moltke's Correspondence 

march on Damvillers the next day, to take possession of 
the Meuse crossings at Dun and Stenay, and to have his 
cavah'y attack the enemy's right flank. The following 
orders were issued in writing: 

No. 216 

To THE Bavarian I. Army Corps. 

General Hq., Clermont, 26 August 1870, 11:00 P.M. 

His Majesty the King directs that the 1st Bavarian Corps march 
tomorrow to ISiixeville; start to be made after cooking meals and 
not before 11:00 A.M. The corps will protect itself against Verdun. 

No. 217 
To THE Bavarian II. Army Corps. 

General Hq., Clermont, 26 August 1870, 11:00 P.M. 

His Majesty the King directs that the lid Bavarian Army Corps 
march tomorrow (Saturday) to Dombasle. 

No. 218 
To Headquarters of the Third Arm\ 

General Hq., Clermont, 26 August 1870, 11:00 P.M. 

The cavalry sent ahead in a northerly direction, has ascertained 
the presence of hostile troops of all arms near Grandpre. 

His Majesty has issued orders that the Xllth, IVth and Guard 
Corps continue the march in direction of Damvillers. The 1st Bavar- 
ian Army Corps proceeds tomorrow (Saturday) to Nixeville, the lid 
to Dombasle. 

The Prussian corps of the Third Army (including the Wiirt- 
temburg Division) are to continue the march in the direction of Ste. 
Menehould. The 5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions at Somme Py and 
Autry have orders to follow the enemy to Grandpre and Vouziers. 

No. 219 
To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz. 


General Hq., Clermont, 26th August, 11:00 P.M. 

Hostile troops of all arms at Grandpre. 

According to written ordersf two corps of the army will start 
tomorrow (Saturday) for Damvillers and reach there on Sunday the 

*By relay to Erize-la-Petite, from there by wire. Copy on Aug- 
ust 27th by mounted messenger. 
fNo. 212. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

The remarkably slow advance of the French Army, 
which had not gotten by the evening of August 26th with 
its leading infantry elements to beyond Grandpre — Buz- 
ancy — Le Chesne, made it possible to reach the hostile 
fighting forces while they were still on the left bank of the 
Meuse and bring them to a stand. A concentration at Dam- 
villers could therefore be abandoned, and the advance of 
the German army corps could be continued in the direction 
of Vouziers, Buzancy and Beaumont. In this movement 
there was no necessity for participation of the portions of 
the army investing Metz. The orders issued, based on 
these views, were as follows : 

No. 220 
To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz. 


General Hq., Clermont, 27 August 1870, 8:00 A.M. 

According to report just received a large portion of the hostile 
fighting forces was last evening still at Vouziers. Therefore the 
troop movements you w^ere directed to make need not start until 
further orders from here. A relay line to be established as far as 
Etain ; steps will be taken for wire communication from there. An- 
swer by wire at once. 

No. 221 
To H. R. H. the Crown Prince of Saxony. 

General Hq., Clermont, 27 August 1870, 8:00 A.M. 

Prince Frederick Charles establishes a relay line from Doncourt 
to Etain. Your H. R. H. will continue that line from there to these 

No. 222 
To Headquarters Bavarian II. Army Corps. 

General Hq., Clermont, 27th August 1870, 8:00 A.M. 

The lid Bavarian Army Corps will send one infantry brigade 
today to Clermont, which will remain there. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 223 

To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz. 
DoNCOURT. By Relay to Erize la Petite. 

General Hq., Clermont, 27 August 1870, 7:30 A.M. 

As now sufficient fis:hting forces are concentrated here, no more 
detachments will be made by you. Acknowledge receipt by wire. 

No. 224 

To Headquarters Third Army. 

General Hq., Clermont, 27 August 1870, 7:30 A.M. 

If possible leading elements of the Prussian corps of the Third 
Army must reach Malmy and Laval on the 28th. Written orders en 
route [see No. 225.]. 

No. 225 

To Headquarters Army Detachment Under H. R. H. the 
Crown Prince of Saxony and Headquarters Third Army.* 

General Hq., Clermont, 27 August 1870, 7:30 A.M. 

According to reports received the main fighting forces under 
Marshal MacMahon are still at Vouziers; strong cavalry has advanced 
as far as Beaumont and Buzancy. 

His Majesty the King directs that the Army Detachment under 
H. R. H. the Crown Prince of Saxony and the Third Army continue 
the advance in that direction. 

This advance will be made by the Army Detachment and both 
Bavarian Army Corps according to attached march tables [see No. 
226], which had to be arranged in detail from considering the condi- 
tions here and has consequently been transmitted direct to both Ba- 
varian corps. 

The Third Army (Vth, Vlth, Xlth Corps and Wiirttemberg Di- 
vision) must reach with its leading elements on the 28th the line Mal- 
my — Laval, on the 29th the line Sechault — Somme Py and concen- 
trate closely. 

The 5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions (Autry and Monthois) will 
in the next few days receive their orders from headquarters of the 
Third Army, and also will report direct to these headquarters. 

*To former via staff officer, to Third Army via headquarters of 
the Vth Army Corps for transmission; in addition copy by mounted 
messenger to both Bavarian corps and to the lid Bavarian Corps 
with additional note: "One battalion remains in Clermont." 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 
No. 226 

MARCH TABLES FOR AUGUST 28th and 29th, 1870. 

28th 29th 

Bavarian lid Corps Vienne* Grandpre 

and in rear thereof 

Bavarian 1st Corps Varennes and Grandpre 

in rear thereof 

Guard Corps Bantheville Buzancy 

Xllth Corps remains a'- Dun Nouart 

IVth Corps Montfaucon Bantheville 

No. 227 

Without date, apparently sketched August 28tJi. 

Xllth Corps Buzancy — Nouart 

Guard Corps by Rem- Themorgues, Champ- 

onville and Landres igneulles 
IVth Corps St. Julian 

1st Bavarian Corps Autry 
lid Bavarian Corps Servon — Sechault 






No. 228 

G. Hq., Clermont, 28th August 1870. 

One to two army corps of the enemy w^ere still at Vouziers 
last evening. It is probable that the enemy's remaining fighting 
forces are at Le Chesne. 

In an attack on Vouziers our right flank must be secured against 
these forces. For that purpose are available: 

Xllth Corps Buzancy 

Guard Corps Themorgues 

IVth Corps Grandpre 

From there the latter, if necessary, moves on Briquenay {% mile by 
road). If on the other hand considerations of flank protection permit, 
these three corps will support the attack on Vouziers each with one 
division on Ballay, Longwy and Falaise. 

For the direct attack on Vouziers are designated: 

Bavarian lid Corps — Termes on Falaise. 

Bavarian 1st Corps by Chatel — Autry on Chambre-aux-Loups. 

Vth Corps by Monthois on Chambre-aux-Loups. 

The course of the attack will show if it is desirable to also bring 
up the Xlth Corps for direct attack or to cut off enemy's retreat with 
our Vlth Corps. 

*Marginal note: "From Dombasle to Clermont the corps will 
take the road via Brabant-en-Argonne and Vraincourt." 


Moltke's Correspondence 

Reports received at General Headquarters in Clermont 
up to 7:00 P.M., August 28th, justified the assumption that 
the enemy was marching northward and caused the follow- 
ing measures to be ordered : 

No. 229 

To Headquarters of the Third Army and Army Detachment 
Under H. R. H. the Crown Prince of Saxony. 

General Hq., Clermont, 28 August 1870, 7:00 P.M. 

The enemy evacuated Vouziers early this morning and is march- 
ing off northward. It remains uncertain whether he intends to con- 
centrate more towards Le Chesne or towards Rethel. 

His Majesty directs the continuation of the march as follows: 

The Xllth Corps marches tomorrow towards Nouart; one brigade 
remaining at Stenay. 

The Guard Corps marches toward Buzancy. 

The IVth Army Corps follows as far as Remonville. 

H. R. H. The Crown Prince of Saxony will reckon with the possi- 
bility of a hostile attack from the direction of Le Chesne and will have 
the terrain south of Nouart and Buzancy reconnoitered for that pos- 

The 1st Bavarian Army Corps proceeds to Champigneulles, the 
lid Corps to Grandpre, both corps will be in readiness there to support 
the Crown Prince of Saxony. 

The three Prussian corps of the Third Army (including the Wiirt- 
temberg Division) move in the direction of Vouziers and west thereof. 
One cavalry division of the Third Army will be sent in the direction of 

General Headquarters proceeds to Grandpre tomorrow. 

Reports to this point till 8:00 A.M. 
Addition to the Third Army: 

Direct orders have been sent from here to the Bavarian 1st Corps. 

No. 230 

To Headquarters Army Detachment Under H. R. H. the 
Crown Prince of Saxony. 

General Hq., Clermont, 28 August 1870, 7 :00 P.M. 

In reply to your letter of today* you are informed that headquar- 
ters of the Army in front of Metz received orders last evening to call 
back the Hid and lid Army Corps to Metz. Therefore you need not 
count on support from these army corps tomorrow. 

*That headquarters had requested information as to whether the 
lid Army Corps, detached from the Army in front of Metz and started 
from Damvillers would be under orders of the Crown Prince of Sax- 
ony and had at the same time expressed the wish that in place of the 
Guard Corps the IVth Army Corps, which was numerically stronger, 
be sent into the first line and the Guard Corps follow in second line. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

As will be seen from today's orders, it has not been possible to 
exchange the IVth for the Guard Corps, but this matter will be kept 
in mind here. 

New reports were received at General Headquarters 
around 9:00 P.M., according to which the enemy had not 
marched off northward, but was doubtlessly continuing his 
march eastward. Orders, becoming necessary because of 
of this fact, were as follows : 

No. 231 

To Headquarters of the Third Army and Army Detachment 
Under H. R. H. the Crown Prince of Saxony. 

General Hq. Clermon% 28 August 1870, 11:00 P.M. 

The appearance of strona: hostile infantry at Nar near Buzancy 
indicates that the enemy will make an attempt to relieve Metz. It 
may be assumed that for this purpose one or two corps will take 
the Vouziers — Buzancy — Stenay road, while the rest of the army 
marches north via Beaumont. 

So as not to lead the enemy to an attack before we have assem- 
bled sufficient fighting- forces, it is left to the discretion of H. R. H. 
the Crown Prince of Saxony to concentrate in time the Xllth, Guara, 
and IVth Corps at first in a defensive position about on the line Lan- 
dres — Ancreville. 

The line Dun — Stenay will be observed by the detached brigade. 

Both Bavarian army corps will start at 5:00 A.M. The 1st Corps 
which will receive orders from these headquarters direct, marches by 
Fleville to Sommerance, reaching there not later than 10:00 A.M. 
The lid Corps marches via Binarville, Chatel and Cornay to St. Juvin. 

The Vth Army Corps will march via Bouconville, Montcheutin and 
Senuc to Grandpre. 

These headquarters will issue further orders concerning the attack 
against the Vouziers — Buzancy — Stenay road. 

The remaining two corps of the Third Army are to be started so 
that they can be brought up for the decision in case of need. 

His Majesty will proceed at 9:00 A.M. to Varennes. 

Moltke's personal addition to orders for the Meuse 
Army Detachment : 

"This does not preclude an advance for the purpose of taking the 
Buzancy road against weaker hostile forces." 

No. 232 

To Headquarters Bavarian I. Army Corps. 

General Hq., Clermont, 28 August 1870, 11:00 P.M. 

The Corps will start at 5:00 A.M. and march via Fleville on 
Sommerance, where it will go into position for the present in rear of 


Moltke's Correspondence 

the left wing of the Army Detachment under H. R. H. the Crown 
Prince of Saxony at Landres. 

The lid Bavarian Corps will be drawn up via Cornay to St. Juvin 
while the Vth Prussian Corps debouches via Grandpre. 

At 9:00 A.M. His Majesty proceeded to Varennes. 

The Corps will establish a relay line from Varennes to Clermont 
and from Varennes to Grandpre. 

On the road from Clermont via Varennes to Grandpre, 
General von Moltke sent direct orders, changing previous 
orders in some details, during the course of August 29th, to 
the leading army corps of the Third Army.* 

No. 233 

To Headquarters 1st Bavarian Army Corps. 

Near Fleville^ 29 August 1870, 11:30 A.M. 

As it is very probable that operations tomorrow will be proceed 
in a westerly direction, the 1st Division of the 1st Bavarian Corps may 
bivouac at St. Juvin and will send one battalion to Grandpre to these 

No. 234 

To Headquarters IId Bavarian Army Corps. 

Near Fleville, 29 August 1870, 11:30 A.M. 

The Bavarian lid Corps will bivouac on the left bank of the Aire 
at Cornay and Chevieres. 

No. 235 

To Headquarters V. Army Corps. 

General Hq., Grandpre, 29 August 1870, 12:30 Noon. 

The Vth Army Corps will halt at Grandpre and go into bivouac. 
The 9th Division has received direct orders from here to that effect. 

*The Vlth Army Corps, that started from Ste. Menehould towards 
Verennes, received orders enroute through Captain Zingler of the 
general staff of General Headquarters, to turn off towards Vienne- 
le-Chateau; it went into bivouac there. 

fBetween Varennes and Grandpre. 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

Reports received up to the evening of August 29th in 
Grandpre from the cavah'y, together with the personal re- 
ports of observations made by Lieutenant Colonels von 
Brandenstein and von Bronsart, of the general staff of Gen- 
eral Headquarters, clearly indicated that the enemy was 
moving in northeasterly direction towards the Meuse and 
that his main forces could be assumed to be between Le 
Chesne and Beaumont and that strong flank detachments 
were farther south. Papers captured from a French staff 
officer in Buzancy carrying orders for August 29th con- 
firmed the above assumption. Therefore His Majesty the 
King decided to attack the enemy the following day with 
both armies before he could reach the Meuse and to threat- 
en at the same time his communications leading westward. 

No. 236 

To Headquarters of the Third Army, Senuc, and Headquar- 
ters Army Detachment Under H. R. H. the Crown Prince 
OF Saxony. 

General Hq., Grandpre, 29 August 1870, 11:00 P.M. 

All reports received today coincide in the fact that the hostile 
army will be tomorrow forenoon with its main forces between Beau- 
mont and Le Chesne, or south of that line. 

His Majesty directs that the enemy be attacked. 

On the right, the Army Detachment under H. R. H. the Crown 
Prince of Saxony will advance at 10:00 A.M. across the line Beau- 
clair — Fosse in direction of Beaumont. It will use the roads east of 
the main Buzancy — Beaumont road. The Guard Corps, being in re- 
serve at the start, must evacuate that road by 8:00 A.M. 

The Third Army, starting early, marches with its right wing via 
Buzancy on Beaumont and is in readiness to support the attack of 
H. R. H. the Crown Prince of Saxony with two army corps, while the 
remaining corps will keep the direction on Le Chesne. 

One battalion of the Third Corps will hold Grandpre. 

His Majesty proceeds at 10:00 A.M. from here to Buzancy. 

The evening after the battle of Beaumont the follow 
ing orders were issued: 


Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 237 

To H. R. H. THE Crown Prince of Saxony, Beaumont, and H. 
R. H. the Crown Prince of Prussia. 
At St. Pierremont. 

Hill or Sommaiithe, 30 August 1870, 6:00 P.M. 

General Headquarters proceeds to Buzancy. Please report loca- 
tion of the corps as soon as that can be done. 

No. 238 

To Headquarters Third Army at St. Pierremont and H. R. H. 
THE Prince of Saxony. 

General Hq., Buzancy, 30 August 1870, 11:00 P.M. 

Though no report has been received up to this hour as to where 
the engagements of the different corps ended, it is clear that the enemy 
has fallen back at all points or been defeated. 

Therefore the forward movement will be continued very early 
tomorrow, the enemy energetically attacked everywhere where he 
makes a stand this side of the Meuse, and pressed together in as small 
a space as possible between the Meuse and the Belgian frontier. 

The Army Detachment under H. R. H. the Crown Prince of Sax- 
ony will have the special task of preventing the hostile left wing from 
escaping eastward. For this it will be advisable that at least two 
corps advance along the right bank of the Meuse and attack any pro- 
bable position opposite Mouzon in flank and rear. 

Similarly, the Third Army must turn against the enemy's front 
and right flank. Artillery positions, as strong as possible, will be 
taken up on this side of the river in such manner that they will ha- 
rass the march and camps of hostile columns in the valley bottom of 
the right bank from Mouzon downstream. 

Should the enemy enter Belgian terrain, without being immediate- 
ly disarmed, he will immediately be followed into that country. 

At 8:30 A.M. His Majesty will proceed from here to Sommauthe. 

All orders issued by the different army headquarters will be 
sent here up to that hour. 


For the Third Army: 

The IVth Corps, having driven, in conjunction vi^ith the Xllth 
Corps, the enemy on Mouzon, has its outposts on the north edge of the 
Bois de Givodeau [Bois Givedeau], the main body north of Beaumont. 
The Guard Corps is south of Beaumont, the Xllth Corps at Letanne and 
Pouilly (on the Meuse), holding both places. The IVth Corps has cap- 
tured 11 guns and 2000 prisoners, also two large ammunition parks 
and the camp of one division. 

To The Crown Prince of Saxony: 

In accordance with a report just received the corps are located 
as follows: 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

Vlth Army Corps at Vouziers. 

Xlth Army Corps and Wiirttemberg Division at Stonne. 
Vth Army Corps at La Besace. 
Bavarian 1st Corps probably at Raucourt. 
Bavarian lid Corps probably at Sommauthe w^ith its leading 

No. 239 
To Headqharters Third Army at St. Pierremont. 

General Hq., Buzancy, 30 August 1870, 11:80 P.M. 

His Majesty has observed w^ith displeasure that the lid Bavarian 
Corps which w^as to follow as reserve immediately in rear of the 1st 
Corps according to orders, was not in position in rear of that corps 
at 4 mile distance at Sommauthe, but was in march column after 
9:00 P.M. with its rear elements at Buzancy. Thus, the corps would 
have been entirely unable to offer support had that been required. 

In addition, the corps increased the difficulties of bringing up 
the trains of the rest of the corps, and it reached its bivouac by an 
unnecessary night march. 

Headquarters of the aiTny in front of Metz was in- 
formed of the events of the past few days and as to fur- 
ther intentions and received corresponding orders : 

No. 240 

To Headquarters in Front of Metz. 

General Hq., Buzancy, 31 August 1870, 8:00 A.M. 

I have the honor to inform you as follows: 

After it had been ascertained in the past few days that the army 
under MacMahon was moving in the terrain between the Meuse and 
the Aisne, the Army Detachment under H. R. H. the Crown Prince of 
Saxony and the Third Army were sent to the front in the direction of 
the Beaumont — Le Chesne road. 

Yesterday strong hostile troops were encountered at Beaumont 
and Stonne. The Corps of Failly, at Beaumont was attacked by the 
lyth. and Xllth Corps and driven past Mouzon with great loss (11 guns 
and 2000 prisoners, two large artillery parks, as ascertained last 
night). Mouzon was taken by the IVth Corps last evening. 

The hostile army corps at Stonne evaded complete annihilation 
by a timely retreat via Raucourt towards Sedan. Only its rear guard 
was attacked and defeated by the 1st Bavarian Corps in the afternoon. 

The advance will be continued today. 

At 5:00 A.M. the Xllth and the Guard Corps, which are in bivouac 
close to Beaumont, cross the Meuse at Letanne and Pouilly to the right 
bank and start for Douzy and Carignan — Sachy respectively. The IVth 
Corps follows them via Mouzon. 


Moltke's Correspondence 

The Third Army also proceeds via the Mezieres — Remilly stretch 
to eventually beyond the Meuse. 

The intention is to crowd the hostile army into as small a space 
as possible between the Meuse and the Belgian frontier and eventually 
throw it into Belgium, into which country our armies will follow un- 
less the French army is immediately disarmed. 

It is not impossible that single portions of the hostile army have 
turned eastward after yesterday's fights at Mouzon. It will be well 
for you to keep this in mind and keep closer investment of Metz. 

No. 241 

To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz. 

Sommauthe* 31 August 1870, 11:00 A.M. 

Enemy was driven yesterday from Beaumont to beyond Mouzon. 
Possible, that single detachments may have turned eastward via 
Carignan, which should be observed. Care to be taken for the securi- 
ty of the depot in Etain. General attack to be continued today. 

No. 242 

To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz. 

General Hq., Vendresse, 81 August 1870, 10:00 P.M. 

In continuation of my letter of today (See No. 240), you are in- 
formed that Army Detachment under H. R. H. The Crown Prince of 
Saxony and the Third Army have continued today their advance with 
good success. 

As has been ascertained today, the result of yesterday's battle is 
materially greater than heretofore assumed. The Corps of Failly and 
Douay and a portion of the Corps of Lebrun appear to be in complete 
dissolution. More than 20 guns and several thousand prisoners were 
taken. Our leading elements today reached the Meuse at several 
points, and even crossed that river. The hostile army is attempting 
to march along the right bank from Sedan to Mezieres.' An advance 
on Donchery, which is already in our hands, will be made early to- 
morrow. Dismounted Hussars and Uhlans of the 4th Cavalry Divi- 
sion have cleaned out the villages of Frenois and Wedelincourt of hos- 
tile infantry. 

Under these conditions it is improbable that the army in front 
of Metz will be interfered with seriously by portions of MacMahon's 

*His Majesty, accompanied by the general staff, had proceeded 
at 8:30 A.M. from Buzancy to the hill near Sommauthe and proceeded 
in the afternoon by way of Beaumont, Roncourt and Chemery to Ven- 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

On the other hand, it would to the interests of the combined ar- 
mies here, if your troops could completely invest the fortress of Ver- 
dun. Forces for that purpose can be easier spared by your command 
because the leading elements of the corps under command of H.. R. H. 
the Grandduke of Mecklenburg- have arrived at Metz. 

Thus, everything in this matter is left to your discretion. 

No army orders were issued by General Headquarters 
for the 1st of September, as the orders issued the evening 
of August 30th (see No. 238) contained the general points 
for the conduct of both armies and especially as everything 
material concerning the movements of the Third Army had 
been verbally discussed by Generals von Moltke, von Pod- 
bielski and von Blumenthal on August 31st at Headquar- 
ters of the Third Army, Chemery, and enroute of the Gen- 
eral Headquarters from Sommauthe to Vendresse (see note 
to No. 241). However, the observations made by Lieu- 
tenant Colonel von Brandenstein, chief of section, general 
staff of General Headquarters, in the vicinity of Remilly 
caused General von Moltke to address a letter the evening 
of August 31st to the chief of staff of the Third Army: 

No. 243 

To Lieutenant General von Blumenthal. 

General Hq., Vendresse, 31 August 1870, 7 :i5 P.M. 

Lieutenant Colonel von Brandenstein, returned from Remilly 
just now, confirms that the French, leaving all impedimenta behind, 
have marched off westward and probably continue their march dur- 
ing theliight. Attainment of large results may be made impossible 
thereby. Your Excellency will consider whether it would not be well 
to cross the Meuse with the Xlth Corps and the Wiirttemberg Divi- 
sion still during the night, so that the attack can be continued very 
early in the morning in .the, direction of the Sedan — Mezieres road on 
a_deployed front. 

No written orders were required during the battle of 
Sedan, and only the start of negotiations caused the issue 
of the following army orders: 

— L-Oi- 

Moltke's Correspondence 

No. 244 

To Headquarters of the Third Army and H. R. H. the Crown 
Prince of Saxony. 

On the Hill near Sedan, 1 September 1870, 7:15 P.M. 

Negotiations have been started; therefore no offensive move- 
ments must be made by us duiing; the night. On the other hand, 
any attempt on the part of the enemy to pierce our lines must be de- 
feated by force of arms. If negotiations should be resultless, then 
hostilities will be resumed, but not before orders therefor are re- 
ceived from these Headquarters. Opening of artillery fire from the 
heights east of. Frenois will be the signal to resume hostilities. 

No. 245 

To H. R. H. Prince Frederick Charles. 

General Hq., Frenois, 1 Setember 1870, 7:15 P.M. 

French army was attacked today enveloped in front of Sedan, and 
completely beaten. About 20,000 prisoners, many cannon and eagles 
taken. Napoleon, in Sedan, has offered his sword to the King. Capitu- 
lation negotiations are going on. 

Based thereon demand surrender of Marshal Bazaine — this in your 

No. 246 


The following agreement has been arrived at between the under- 
signed, the Chief of the General Staff of His Majesty the King of Prus- 
sia, Commander-in-Chief of the German Armies, and the Commander- 
in-Chief of the French Army, both having plenipotentiary powers from 
King William and Emperor Napoleon: 

Article 1 : 

The French army under command of General von Wimpffen, at this 
moment invested in Sedan by superior forces, is considered prisoners 
of war. 

Article 2: 

Considering the brave defense of this army, all generals and offi- 
cers are excepted therefrom, as well as higher officials with commis- 
sioned rank, who give their word of honor in writing not to carry 
arms again against Germany until the completion of the present war, 
and not to act in any manner injurious to the interests of Germany. 
Officers and officials, accepting these conditions, will retain their arms 
and personal property. 


1 <i 


Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

Article 3: 

All other arms, as well as all army materiel, such as eagles, 
colors, standards, guns, horses, moneys, army vehicles, ammunition, 
etc., will be delivered to some authority in Sedan, appointed by the 
French Commander-in-Chief, to be immediately transferred to a Ger- 
man Plenipotentiary. 

Article 4: 

Thereupon the fortress of Sedan, in its present condition, will be 
delivered, and not later than the evening of September 2d, into the 
hands of His Majesty, the King of Prussia. 

Article 5: 

Those officers who refuse the conditions mentioned in Article 2, 
as well as the disarmed men, will be conducted off by regiments and in 
military order. This measure will commence September 2d and must be 
finished by September 3d. The detachments will be brought to the 
terrain at Iges surrounded by the Meuse, to be delivered by their 
officers to the German Plenipotentiaries, which latter will then issue 
orders to the noncommissioned officers. *" 

Article 6: 

Military surgeons, without exception, remain behind, to take over 
the care of the wounded. 

Agreed to at Frenois, on 2 September, 1870. 


No. 247 

To Headquarters of the Third Army and H. R. H. the Crown 
Prince of Saxony. 

General Hq., Frenois, 2 September 1870, 12:00 Noon. 

The French army, today still in and around Sedan, has capitulated. 
Officers dismissed on their word of honor. Noncommissioned officers 
and privates are prisoners of war. Arms and army materiel to be 
surrendered. Copy of the convention enclosed. 

The prisoners of war, the strength 'of which cannot yet be ascer- 
tained, will be assembled in the arc of the Meuse at Vilette and Iges 
and then conducted off in echelons. As first guard, the Xlth and the 
lid Bavarian Corps are designated, both under command of General 
von der Tann. 

General von der Tann will regulate the subsistence of the prison- 
ers of war, for which, according to the promise of the French command- 
ing general, supplies will be brought by rail from Mezieres to near 
Donchery. Great care is to be exercised that no obstructions are made 
for any train. 

The Xlth Army Corps will detach one infantry regiment during 
the course of tomorrow, after Sedan has been evacuated by the French 
troops, to serve as garrison for the fortress. 

For the rest, the Third Army and Army Detachment under H.R.H. 
the Crown Prince of Saxony will withdraw from Sedan tomorrow to 
the west and south; the Remilly — La Besace — Le Chesne road being 
assigned as western boundary to the Army Detachment. Trains of 
the Bavarian Army Corps will evacuate that road in good time. 

• —293— 

Operations July 18 to September 2, 1870 

Article 3: 

All other arms, as well as all army materiel, such as eagles, 
colors, standards, guns, horses, moneys, army vehicles, ammunition, 
etc., will be delivered to some authority in Sedan, appointed by the 
French Commander-in-Chief, to be immediately transferred to a Ger- 
man Plenipotentiary. 

Article It'. 

Thereupon the fortress of Sedan, in its present condition, will be 
delivered, and not later than the evening of September 2d, into the 
hands of His Majesty, the King of Prussia. 

Article 5: 

Those officers who refuse the conditions mentioned in Article 2, 
as well as the disarmed men, will be conducted off by regiments and in 
military order. This measure will commence September 2d and must be 
finished by September 3d. The detachments will be brought to the 
terrain at Iges surrounded by the Meuse, to be delivered by their 
officers to the German Plenipotentiaries, which latter will then issue 
orders to the noncommissioned officers. *" 

Article 6: 

Military surgeons, without exception, remain behind, to take over 
the care of the wounded. 

Agreed to at Frenois, on 2 September, 1870. 


No. 247 

To Headquarters of the Third Army and H. R. H. the Crown 
Prince of Saxony. 

General Hq., Frenois, 2 September 1870, 12:00 Noon. 

The French army, today still in and around Sedan, has capitulated. 
Officers dismissed on their word of honor. Noncommissioned officers 
and privates are prisoners of war. Arms and army materiel to be 
surrendered. Copy of the convention enclosed. 

The prisoners of war, the strength 'of which cannot yet be ascer- 
tained, will be assembled in the arc of the Meuse at Vilette and Iges 
and then conducted off in echelons. As first guard, the Xlth and the 
lid Bavarian Corps are designated, both under command of General 
von der Tann. 

General von der Tann will regulate the subsistence of the prison- 
ers of war, for which, according to the promise of the French command- 
ing general, supplies will be brought by rail from Mezieres to near 
Donchery. Great care is to be exercised that no obstructions are made 
for any train. 

The Xlth Army Corps will detach one infantry regiment during 
the course of tomorrow, after Sedan has been evacuated by the French 
troops, to serve as garrison for the fortress. 

For the rest, the Third Army and Army Detachment under H.R.H. 
the Crown Prince of Saxony will withdraw from Sedan tomorrow to 
the west and south; the Remilly — La Besace — Le Chesne road being 
assigned as western boundary to the Army Detachment. Trains of 
the Bavarian Army Corps will evacuate that road in good time. 

• —293— 

Moltke's Correspondence 

The prisoners of war will be sent in two columns via Stenay — 
Etain — Gorze to Remilly and via Buzancy — Clermont — St. Mihiel to 
Pont-a-Mousson respectively by the Army Detachment under H. R. H. 
the Crown Prince of Saxony, and headquarters of the Third Army re- 

To prevent all doubt, it is ordered that the French officers cap- 
tured in battle yesterday and today prior to completion of negotia- 
tions at 11:00 A.M. are to be treated according to existing regulations. 

The Third Army will immediately designate a commandant for 
Sedan and also one general officer to be charged with taking over the 
arms, etc., to be laid down in Sedan. It is left to your discretion to 
assign to him a sufficient number of officers and officials as assis- 
tants. Both officers will report as soon as possible to the Quartermas- 
ter General of the Army. 

The horses to be delivered by the French army are to ba distri- 
buted, in compliance with directions of His Majesty the King, among 
the entire German forces; and the different army headquarters will 
receive information later as to their quota. 

Police of the battlefield is the duty of the Headquarters, Lines of 
Communications of the Army Detachment under H. R. H. the Crown 
Prince of Saxony. Burial of the dead is to be hastened by means of 
requisitions on civil authorities. 

No. 248 

To Headquarters of the Army in Front of Metz. 

General Hq., Frenois, x: September 1870, 12:00 Noon. 

Capitulation of MacMahon's army signed. Army is prisoner of 
war. Today commence transportation of prisoners in two columns — 
Stenay — Etain — Gorze — Remilly and Buzancy — Clermont — St. Mihiel 
— Pont-a-Mousson. 

Daily echelons of 10,000 men each on each line; first echelons 
reach entraining points on the 5th. The army in front of Metz will 
take over the columns at Etain from the 3d on, at Pont-a-Mousson 
from the 5th on, subsist them and continue them on. In case delays 
occur in rail transportation, the columns will continue the march on 
foot along the railroads. 



CAMPAIGN OF 1870-71 

The Operations of the Second Army 

From the Commencement of the Campaign to the 
Capitulation of Metz 

Compiled from the Official Reports of Headquarters of the 
Secoyid Army 


Captain, General Staff 

Berlin, 1873 

Ernest Siegfried Mittler and Son 

Translated by 


This work has been compiled from the official reports of 
Headquarters of the Second Army and the events have been 
narrated as they were seen from the viewpoint of those 
headquarters. It has been more the endeavor to pursue the 
course of developments on which the decisions of those head- 
quarters were based, than to go into all the minor details 
connected therewith. 

The Compiler. 
Berlin, November, 1873. 


Chapter II 


A new epoch opened for the Second Army on August 
4th ; for its corps, after executing the orders of August 3d, 
stood fully concentrated with their fighting units closed up 
within themselves, and nothing serious was to be expected 
of the enemy. 

On the 4th the First Army was concentrating in the 
triangle Lebach — Tholey — Ottweiler; that day the Third 
Army crossed the frontier in four columns to drive the 
enemy opposite it back onto Strassburg and then to march 
off to the right through the Vosges. 

Prince Frederick Charles, who transferred his head- 
quarters in the morning of the 4th to Winnweiler, received 
information from both the other armies direct. 

This day gave the Second Army complete freedom 
of action according to its own missions. After having exe- 
cuted the task set for the third, it could start an offensive 
against the Saar line early on the 5th. 

The conception of the nature of the terrain which army 
headquarters had gained made it appear correct to send four 
corps, i.e., the main body of the army, along the good 
southern road through the depression of the Landstuhl, 
"badlands," and to march with only two corps along the 
worse northern road via Kusel. Difficult marches along 
rocky roads, devoid of shade, were to be expected, and ma- 
terial' casualties on account of heat exhaustion could proba- 
bly not be avoided. 

However, an attack against the central Saar, executed 
by all the forces of the Second Army, appeared to promise 
important results. The French Army still stood with its 
forces dispersed along the long frontier line from Hagenau 
to opposite Saarlouis. Should the Second Army be success- 
ful in piercing the center of this line, around Saargemiind, 


Campaign of 1870-71 

the enemy, not yet fully mobilized, would be cut in two, 
his lines of communications to the rear threatened, and 
he would be brought to a critical situation. It could be 
assumed that he had so far no reliable information of the 
approach of the Second Army via Kusel and Kaiserslautern, 
as only cavalry had been shown on the German side so far. 

This penetrating operation was consequently considered 
as the next objective of the Second Army. Therefore the 
commanding general issued his orders for the concentra- 
tion on the line Zweibriicken — Neunkirchen the evening of 
August 4th. 

According to these orders the Illd Army Corps wa.s \o 
march on the right by St. Wendel to Neunkirchen, to reach 
that place with its main body on the 6th and to send an ad- 
vance guard on the 7th as far as Sulzbach. The Xth Army 
Corps was to follow on the 3d via Kusel and Wladmohr with 
orders to concentrate on the 7th along the railroad at Bex- 
bach and to send its advance guard on the 8th to St. Ing- 

The other four corps received as march direction the 
road Kaiserslautern — Landstuhl — Hotnburg. 

On August 5th and 6th the IVth Corps, from Homburg, 
was to debouch with its two divisions on Zweibriicken and 
to send an advance guard as early as the 6th to New Horn- 
bach, while the Guard Corps was to advance from Homburg 
to Bliescastel, to be with its main body there on the 7th and 
to send two advance guards the next day, one along the Blies 
valley, the other towards Assweiler. The IXth Corps to 
follow in rear of the Guard Corps with orders to march on 
the 5th and 6th by Otterberg, if possible north of the Reich- 
wald and Landstuhl badlands to Waldmohr, to reach 
there on the 7th. The main highway was placed at its dis- 
posal for the 6th of August. Along this road also the XHth 
Army Corps was to reach Kaiserslautern on the 6th, Land- 
stuhl on the 7th and Homburg on the 8th. 

As the Guard Corps, the IXth and the Xllth Army 
Corps followed each other without interval in the 20 miles 
long defile from Kaiserslautern to Homburg, these three 
corps received orders to leave the 2d Section of their trains, 


Operations Second German Army 

as well as all field trains, in the terrain they occupied on Au- 
gust 4th in order to avoid any unnecessary intervals in the 
march column. This difficult march of an army of more 
than 80,000 men through a single defile could be accom- 
plished without interruption only by adhering to the most 
minute order and precision.* 

The trains that had been left behind started their march 
on August 8th in the same sequence as their army corps, and 
it took hours to properly regulate their march through the 
comparatively narrow streets of Kaiserslauternf and the 
field military police was charged with supervision of the 
road as its first task and trial of its achievements during 
this war. 

The outpost service was performed throughout these 
important days by the cavalry divisions. No relief was to 
be made by the corps arriving on the first line without ex- 
press orders from the army commander, as the main 
point was to hide knowledge of the presence of the army 
from the enemy as long as possible. 

According to reports sent in by General von Rheinbaben 
the main body of the 6th Cavalry Division had reached 
Klein-Ottweiler on August 3d, and the left column of the 
5th Cavalry Division Homburg — Blieskastel, while the right 
column had passed on August 2d the line Assweiler — St. 
Wendel — Werschweiler and had continued its march from 
there on the 3rd. Along the entire front squadrons had 
been sent out towards the enemy. 

However, for the solution of the task now confronting 
it, the location of the main body of the cavalry appeared to 
be still too far away from the frontier. If those detach- 
ments that were charged with keeping close touch with the 
enemy, were to appear rapidly, by surprise, and effectively, 

*Delays could not be totally avoided in those days — especially 
as the Guard Corps was brought forward simultaneously — but no 
blockades occurred which would have prevented the corps from reach- 
ing their march objectives. 

fOf course not a\\ the trains adhered to their proper sequence; 
imbued by the quite natural impulse to follow their proper organi- 
zations as soon as possible, some endeavored to get ahead through the 
march columns and greatly interfered thereby with the march on the 


Campaign of 1870-71 

they should not have to make very long marches from the 
bivouac places of the main bodies to the hostile outposts. 
Therefore the main bodies received instructions to move 
farther forward and orders v^ere also issued — as it v^as 
very important to send messages as rapidly as possible by 
relays, — for both divisions to report direct to army head- 

The cavalry had its first brush with the enemy as early 
as August 3d. One squadron of the 3d Uhlan Regiment had 
entered St. Johann, opposite Saarbriicken, and had suc- 
ceeded in capturing the first prisoners — 7 — there. The 
statements of these prisoners confirmed the reports that the 
hostile 2d Corps stood in front of Saarbriicken and that the 
3d Corps had been in readiness behind the 2d in the engage- 
ment on August 2d. 

General von Rheinbaben had reported that larger op- 
erations would be carried out on the 4th. Thus, detailed re- 
ports concerning the defenses and dispositions of the 
hostile fighting forces could be counted on. General head- 
quarters had oriented army headquarters along general 
lines as to the enemy's positions. 

According to them, the French 1st Corps (MacMahon) 
was at Hagenau, the 5th (Failly) at Bitsch, one division 
or brigade was at Saargemtind — this had been ascertained to 
belong to the hostile 5th Corps by the cavalry of the Sec- 
ond Army. The 2d Corps (Frossard) was still at Saar- 
briicken, the 3d (Bazaine) at Boulay, the 4th (Ladmirault) 
in the vicinity of Bouzonville and in front thereof. It had 
been learned that the Guard Corps had been brought from 
Nancy to Metz ; and only of the 6th Corps we had no definite 
information. A regiment belonging to that corps had been 
seen in the Camp of Chalons and it \yas possible that the 
entire corps could be looked for there. The 7th Corps was 
being concentrated at Belfort, but there was no reliable in- 
formation concerning its destination. 

The Third Army, after having completed its task in 
Lower Alsace, was to proceed against the hostile main posi- 
tion in such manner as to reach on the 9th the river line 
above Saargemiind. That day ought also to have been desig- 


Operations Second German Army 

nated for the attack of the Second Army. The dispositions 
made for the 4th for the advance, would have brought that 
army in the situation to be able to force the Saar with all 
units on the 9th, 

The assumptions on which army headquarters based 
hopes for the success of such an offensive, were confirmed 
by the information received (mentioned above) of conditions 
with the enemy. But nevertheless conditions were to change 
very soon and the entire war situation unexpectedly assume 
a new shape. 

If touch with the enemy has once been gained, that 
toucli becomes the normal form for all actions. Decisions 
arrived at in advance have to be sacrificed to momentary 
requirements and new dispositions must be adapted to new 

During August 4th the thunder of cannon had been 
heard several times on the left wing of the Second Army. At 
6:00 A.M. August 5th information of the victory of Weis- 
sembourg was received at army headquarters in Winnweiler. 
The first action on a large scale had been fought and had re- 
sulted in a brilliant victory. The prestige of the enemy — 
who had astonished the world by the confident manner of 
his declaration — had been materially damaged by a defeat 
within fourteen days after his declaration of war in 
the midst of peace, by a defeat in which he lost not only a 
number of trophies but also an unusual number of un- 
wounded prisoners seldom found in military history. 

The Second Army had now to pay its utmost attention 
to find what eff'ect this event had on the enemy in front of 
the Second Army. The cavalry was directed to increase its 
efforts in closing with the enemy and to lose no opportunity 
that might furnish some clue as to the enemy's intentions. 
The main body of the cavalry was on the line Biittlingen — 
Dudweiler — St. Ingbert — Bliescastel — Zvv'eibriicken and Pir- 
masenz. It had taken this position independently on receipt 
of orders from Army Headquarters on the 4th. Its advanced 
troops on the Blies and Saar reported — and the reports from 
the right wing and center corresponded — that it appeared 
that the enemy was marching off. It was believed that mov- 


Campaign of 1870-71 

ing troops could be seen between Saarbriicken and Forbach 
and that hostile camps, abandoned by troops, were seen at 
the frontier. 

These reports did not come singly, but were repeated 
during the course of the 5th of August.* Therefore the 
cavalry received information at 7:00 P.M. of the events at 
Weissembourg and instructions to remain close to the enemy 
to ascertain his route of retreat and to push forward in 
strength especially in the direction of Rohrbach. The corps 
were left to the execution of the dispositions of August 4th. 

During the forenoon of August 5th Prince Freder- 
ick Charles transferred his headquarters to Kaiserslau- 


Early reports of August 6th were awaited with great 
tension in Kaiserslautern. These reports still stated, com- 
ing from the vicinity of Saarbriicken, that it appeared as if 
the enemy was getting ready to march off. It was said 
that troops were entraining for St. Avoid at the Forbach 

Therefore the Prince wired at 8:05 A.M. from Kaisers- 
lautern to General von Alvensleben II, "the 5th Infantry 
Division will march to Saarbriicken during the 6th, as the 
cavalry divisions are closely following the retreating en- 

Thereupon Army Headquarters proceeded to Homburg. 

A wire from General von Alvensleben arriving in Hom- 
burg at noon was already dated from Saarbriicken. The 

* Subsequently proved to be erroneous. 

fDuring the course of August .5th the corps of the Second Army 
reached the following points in executing their tasks as directed on 
the 4th: 

1. The Illd Army Corps, St. Wendel — Neunkirchen. 

2. The IVth Army Corps, Homburg — Einod. 

3. The Xth Army Corps, Kusel — Altenglau. 

4. The Guard Corps, Landstuhl — Kindsbach. 

5. The IXth Army Corps, Otterberg — Otterbach. 

6. The Xllth Army Corps, Miinchweiler — Enkenbach (be- 

tween Winnweiler and Kaiserslautern). 

JAt the same time the IVth Army Corps sent an advance guard 
on the 6th to Neu-Hornbach. 


Operations Second German Army 

enemy had actually evacuated that place and a portion of 
the cavalry of the Second Army occupied it.* Infantry and 
artillery, apparently covering the retreat of the French still 
were on the hills at Spicheren, 

Events now took a rapid course and quite unexpectedly 
drew the right wing of the Second Army into a bloody battle. 

General von Rheinbaben reported at 1 :30 P.M. that the 
enemy was deploying against his advancing leading elements 
and that at that time the leading elements of the 14th Infan- 
try Division of the First Army were arriving in Saar- 

As was soon learned, headquarters of the Hid Army 
Corps had already arrived at the decision to occupy Saar- 
briicken and did so, when the orders of the Prince of the 
morning of that day were received. At 3:30 P.M. the fol- 
lowing telegram was received at Homburg from Neunkir- 

"5th Division reports from Saarbriicken that the 14th Divi- 
sion is engaged in battle. Colonel Doring advances in support 
with the 9th Brigade. f I am proceeding to that place. All avail- 
able troops march or proceed by rail to Saarbriicken." 

Report from Saarbriicken : 

"Engagement proceeding victoriously. 

VON Alvensleben." 

Thus troops of the First and Second Army became 
mixed at Saarbriicken. It could be seen as early as August 
4th that blockades in the march columns could easily occur 
because of the orders for the march to the left of the First 
Army, directed by Army Headquarters, into the triangle Le- 
bach — Tholey — Ottweiler. For instance, the First Army 
had occupied the village of Ottweiler, while the St. Wendel 
— Neunkirchen — Saarbriicken road leading through Ott- 
weiler, had been assigned to the right wing of the Second 
Army. Therefore Army Headquarters at once communi- 
cated with General von Steinmetz, Regulating conditions 
on the left wing of the First and the right wing of the 

*In evacuating Saarbriicken, the French left the bridges un- 
damaged. — C.H.L. 

fAdvance guard of the 5th Infantry Division. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

Second Army appeared the more necessary as the 1st Army 
Corps was also drawn into the same terrain in which they 
moved. This corps detrained on August 3d and 4th at Bir- 
kenfeld and Kaiserslautern and marched into the triangle 
Tiirkismiihle — St. Wendel — Tholey. There it was to hold 
itself in readiness at the start to serve as support for either 
the First or Second Army as conditions might require. Thus 
we might expect overcrowding in the direction of Birken- 
feld toward Saarbriicken similar to that between Kaisers- 
lautern and Saargemiind. 

Regulation cf the march direction of the two armies — 
which could of course be accomplished only by direct or- 
ders from General Headquarters — was not yet completed on 
August 6th. And the engagement at Saarbriicken now 
made regulation impossible. The thunder of cannon had to 
exert its influence on the troops marching on the adjoining 
flanks, and we had waited to see how many troops of the 
two armies the tactical decision would mix, as is the case in 
every action. Only after the close of the action could steps 
be taken to bring the troops back to their proper roads for 
a continuation of the operations. 

Let us now turn briefly to the development of the ac- 
tion at Saarbriicken : 

The Illd Army Corps, foreseeing the approaching pri- 
mary tactical decisions had accomplished more than had 
been ordered by material marches and on the morning of 
the 6th, it with the 5th Infantry Division was in and south 
of Neunkirchen, with the 6th Division and the corps ar- 
tillery between there and St. Wendel. 

According to the orders of its commanding general the 
corps should, on the 6th, march with its leading elements 
as far as Dudweiler, with the remainder as far as the vicin- 
ity of Neunkirchen. These orders soon were enlarged, in 
consequence of reports received direct from the cavalry that 
Saarbriicken also should be reached. When in addition Gen- 
eral von Alvensleben received at 11:00 A.M. the wire of the 
Prince from Kaiserslautern, dated 8:05 A.M., he directed 
the 5th Infantry Division to occupy the city and to concen- 
trate north thereof with a depth of four miles. When then 


Operations Second German Army 

the thunder of cannon was heard at Saarbriicken at noon 
and as the advance guard of that division was already 
marching to the sound of cannon, the Illd Corps Headquar- 
ters decided to march to the battlefield with all troops that 
could be reached, or to send them there by rail. The bat- 
talions in Neunkirchen and St. Wendel were at once en- 
trained and started for Saarbriicken. Thus it happened that 
not only the 5th Infantry Division but also portions of the 
6th and the corps artillery reached the battlefield. 

By 3:00 P.M. the action had spread to the line Stifts- 
wald of St. Arnual to Stiring and by that hour assumed such 
a serious aspect that it appeared desirable to support the 
troops engaged as soon as possible. Therefore troops of 
the 5th Infantry Division participated on all portions of the 
battlefield as a very welcome support in the battle. 

The action proper, as well as reports thereof, are within 
the province of the battles of the First Army (see v. Schell, 
Operations of the First Army). 

The loss of the 5th Infantry Division in the short but 
heavy engagement was in dead and wounded: 72 officers, 
1921 men, that of the 5th Cavalry Division, 2 officers, 32 

In the evening the 6th Infantry Division concentrated 
around Neunkirchen between eight and nine o'clock. A por- 
tion of that division and of the corps artillery reached the 
battlefield during the course of August 6th, formed in re- 
serve there, but did not have a chance to participate to 
any extent in the action.* 

This action did not only involve the Hid Corps, but also 
the cavalry of the Second Army, though the latter did not 
succeed in gaining a tactical success.! 

During the night General von Rheinbaben issued orders 
not only to those portions of the 5th Cavalry Division that 
were close at hand, but also to the entire 6th Cavalry Divi- 

*One battalion of the 20th Infantry Regiment, which had been 
entrained in St. Wendel, participated in outpost service during the 
night; it had some losses during the day. 

fThe Brunswick Hussar Regiment suffered not immaterial los- 
ses in its attempt to support the infantry, undertaken with the 
greatest bravery. 


Campaign of 1870-71 j'. 

sion to march immediately toward the battlefield. This ^ 
movement was made use of at the same time to transfer the 
6th Cavalry Division to the right wing of the entire cavalry 
line and to do away with the separation of the 5th Division 
by regiments of the 6th. 

The development of an action at Saarbriicken did not 
contradict the opinion held at Headquarters of the Second 
Army that the enemy was retreating from the frontier, as 
had been several times reported by the cavalry. It is hkely 
that at Saarbriicken only the rear elem,ents of Frossard's 
Corps had been overtaken and that the enemy had 
brought back stronger bodies of troops only to disengage 
those troops. Therefore the army orders issued the after- 
noon of the Gth — while the action was progressing — started 
with that assumption. It contained the additions that had 
now become necessary to the orders issued on the 4th to 
advance to the line Neunkirchen — Zweibriicken, It was 
known that the main forces of the Hid Army Corps were al- 
ready at Saarbriicken, that is, a day's march farther to the 
front than they ought to have been originally on the 6th.* 

If we therefore intended to keep up close connection 
permanently between the different units of the armies and 
be ready for a possible rapid pursuit of the enemy, the rest 
of the corps would have to increase their marches on Au- 
gust 7th, which, of course, would mean increased efforts and 

Consequently, on that day the corps were to reach: 

The Xth Army Corps — designated to support the Hid 
Corps — St. Ingbert; 

The Guard Corps, Assweiler with one infantry division, 
rear elements closed up if possible opposite Bliescastel. 

The IVth Army Corps, Neu-Hornbach, advance guards 
towards Bitsch and Rorbach. 

The IXth Army Corps with leading elements ready for 
action at Bexbach. 

The Xllth Army Corps Homburg. 

Army headquarters, Blieskastel. 

*According- to army orders of August 4th, the corps was to be 
at Neunkirchen on the 6th of August. 


Plan of the Battle-field of Spicheren 

'.ipe.irtlont ol the I'Army under GeneraJ voji SU mmefa 




X 3 



^ -^ 

Operations Second German Army 

The Second Army received at that very time reinforce- 
ment through the lid Army Corps which had been brought 
by rail from the interior of the monarchy, and which was to 
arrive in Homburg and Neunkirchen during the 8th to the 
11th of August. An area around Neunkirchen was assigned 
to this army corps for its concentration. That corps num- 
bered: 25 battalions, 8 squadrons, 14 batteries, 25,000 in- 
fantry, 1200 horses and 84 guns. 

Thus, the strength of the army now was: 181 battal- 
ions, 156 squadrons, 105 batteries with 181,000 infantry, 23,- 
400 horses, 630 guns.* 

The 1st Army Corps now definitely joined the First 
Army, the Vlth Army Corps the Third Army. 

It is known of the 1st Army Corps that it had been 
transferred to the zone between Tiirkismiihle — St. Wendel — 
Tholey. The Vlth Army Corps had detrained at Landau. 
The 12th Infantry Division belonging to that corps was to 
reach the vicinity of Pirmasenz on August 7th, and there- 
fore the IVth Army Corps today received orders to make 
connection with it. 

Prior to that on August 3d, the 1st Cavalry Division 
had been assigned to the First Army, the 2d Cavalry Divi- 
sion to the Third Army. 


General von Alvensleben II reported the victorious 
finish of the action at Saarbriicken by wire at 3 : 15 A.M. Au- 
gust 7th. He added that the fight had been heavy and bloody. 
Thus it had been a question of a decision of tactical impor- 
tance. The commander-in-chief of the Second Army also 
received in Bliescastel, the news of the decisive victory of 
the Third Army at Worth. Thus, on the 6th of August the 
enemy had been beaten on both of his wings. 

Under these circumstances some reports became of 
great importance, as they opened an expectation of partici- 

*The losses during the action of Spicheren and the march losses 
up to then should be deducted from the above numbers. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

pating in the defeat of the hostile troops beaten at Worth 
or to capture the French troops still remaining on the Saar. 

General von Moltke added to his telegram of the vic- 
tory the notation that it could be concluded from the fact 
that the enemy held out at Worth and Saarbriicken, that 
strong hostile forces were still near the Saar and that cav- 
alry reconnaissance was necessary. Then followed a report 
from the IVth Army Corps which had received information 
of events at Worth from the 12th Division (which was at 
Dahn on August 6th) and had learned that during the ac- 
tion portions of the enemy had retreated on Bitsch. The 
12th Division was about to pursue. Army headquarters also 
received information from General Headquarters by wire 
that those hostile masses that had turned towards Bitsch 
would reach that place by August 7th and could probably be 
reached on the 8th in the vicinity of Rohrbach by the left 
wing and by the cavalry of the Second Army. 

In order to clearly estimate the situation of things it 
will be necessary here to go back to the events of the past 
few days. 

On August 4th touch had been gained in the terrain 
between Bitsch and Saargemiind between the left wing col- 
umn of the cavalry and the enemy. At Habkirchen and 
Bliesbriicken French infantry detachments were encoun- 
tered, French cavalry at Klein-Rederching, and stronger 
detachments of all arms at Holbach. The Scheide woods 
were also found occupied by French and at Opperdingen 
hostile cavalry and infantry was encountered. All these re- 
ports were received by army headquarters on August 5th. 

In consequence of the orders issued on August 5th to 
the cavalry, to follow the enemy who, as stated, was reported 
to be marching from the Blies to the Saar, and to push for- 
ward in force especially in the direction of Rohrbach, fur- 
ther reports were received from that vicinity. 

It was reported that strong columns were marching on 
the 6th from Bitsch toward Saargemiind and that the camp 
at Saargemiind had greatly increased. On the other hand, 
movements of the enemy in the opposite direction from 


Operations Second German Army 

Rohrbach to Bitsch were reported, as well as that material 
French forces were at Bitsch.* 

Second Army Headquarters had all these reports when- 
it took measures for the left wing of the army, in order to 
concentrate as many troops as possible against Rohrbach by 
the 8th of August. There were disposable for this princi- 
pally the IVth Army Corps, which received orders to con- 
tinue its march the afternoon of August 7th to south of Vol- 
miinster and to send its advance guard as far as Rohrbach. 

By the forenoon of August 8th the entire Army Corps 
was to be at Rohrbach, and the left column of the cav- 
alry,! which was attached to that corps, was to be sent 
against Lemberg and Lorenzen.J 

The Guard Corps was designated to support any action 
that might occur probably at Rohrbach. Accordingly the 2d 
Guard Infantry Division and the Guard Cavalry Division 
were to be started on the march on the 8th in the Blies val- 
ley early so as to be in readiness between 10 and 11 o'clock 
at a suitable point north of Gross Rederching. It was left 
to the discretion of the commanding general of the Guard 
Corps to send the remainder of his corps so that it could 
support the units ahead. 

The hostile fighting forces observed on the 6th at Saar- 
gemiind had to be held there. For that purpose the Xth Army 
Corps was to reach Saargemiind with its leading elements 
at 10:00 A.M. August 8th and there engage in a containing 

*At 7:00 P.M. patrols of General von Bredow's command had 
struck a hostile squadron marching from Saargemiind; it was re- 
ported that Rorbach was occupied by the French; at Frohmiihle 
a picket was encountered, while hostile infantry, estimated to be 
one regiment, held the crest of the ridge at Freudenberg and that a 
column of wagons was seen in rear of it near Bitsch, apparently artil- 
lery. The strength of the enemy at Bitsch was said to be 20,000 

fGeneral von Bredow with his four cavalry regiments and one 
horse battery. 

JOrders had been sent as early as the morning of the 7th to 
General von Bredow to prolong his outposts then extending from 
Schweix to Bliesbriicken, to the right via Bliesbolgen and beyond 
to cover the IVth and the Guard Corps, as the right column of 
the 5th and 6th Cavalry Divisions was pursuing the enemy. The$e 
orders were sent to the IVth Army Corps for transmission to General 
von Bredow. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

In this it was not the intention to force a crossing of 
the Saar should the enemy deploy stronger forces there, 
for it appeared in that case far better to send the Illd Army 
Corps, which was then on the left bank of the Saar upstream 
and thus open the defile for the Xth Army Corps. Both 
corps received directions to communicate with each other 
regarding this point. 

In addition, the leading division of the Vlth Army 
Corps, the 12th, of the Third Army, which was marching 
from Landau on Pirmasenz, could reach Rorbach on Au- 
gust 8th. Therefore this division received information of 
the measures taken and was requested to cooperate. It 
already had received instructions from headquarters of the 
Third Army to make a demonstration against Bitsch. 

On the other hand, on the right wing of the army the 
Illd Army Corps received orders to remain for the present at 
Saarbriicken in view of the hardships it had so far under- 
gone. The pursuit of the enemy beaten there was left, in 
addition to the First Army, to the four cavalry brigades 
that had been brought up to the battlefield by General von 

The IXth and the Xllth Army Corps received orders to 
close up and rest at Bexbach and Homburg respectively. 

Now, during the afternoon hours of August 7th reports 
were received from Saarbriicken from the Illd Army Corps, 
which made it appear that the victory gained on the 6th was 
far more important than expected. General von Alvens- 
leben wired at 2:45 P.M. that 600 to 700 unwounded prison- 
ers had been brought in* and that many arms and materiel 
as v/ell as portions of the camps had been captured. The 
enemy had left the Saar and the Blies line during the night. 
It was found that the enemy only held Saargemiind the 
morning of the 7th. And the 5th Cavalry Division (17th 
Brunswick Hussar Regiment) found that place evacuated in 
the afternoon. 

Information of this fact reached headquarters in Blies- 
castel in the evening; it lessened the chances of any action 

*Later on the numbers were ascertained to be more than 1000. 


Operations Second German Army 

at Rohrbach, but did not preclude the possibility that the 
enemy's columns marching farthest to the north, retreating 
from Alsace, might be struck the following morning at Ror- 
bach or south thereof. 

Therefore the orders already issued remained un- 

On the morning of August 8th the Commander-in-Chief 
of the Second Army proceeded to the IVth Army Corps, 
which stood in readiness in the vicinity of Klein Rederch- 
ing. The Xth Army Corps with all its units had started its 
march towards Saargemiind. It was left on the march toward 
that point, and only its advance guard received orders to ad- 
vance farther towards Puttelange and Metzing. The Guard 
Corps had taken measures in such manner that it reached 
in its entire strength the terrain north of Gross-Rederching 
between 10 and 11 o'clock and could send its cavalry, fol- 
lowed by advance guards in support, to beyond the line 
Achen — Rohrbach. Portions of the 5th Cavalry Division had 
been brought forward through Saargemiind, to find and keep 
close to the enemy, and to gain definite knowledge of his 

Thus, suflficient forces were in readiness for action at 
Rohrbach, but the advanced cavalry found the vicinity as 
far as Lemberg and Lorenzen free of the enemy.* 

The troops beaten at Worth appeared to have taken 
their line of retreat farther south, and there was no hope 
of reaching them. But the cavalry received instructions 
to extend its reconnaissances as far as Drtilingen (la Petite 
Pierre — Fenetrange road). Prince Frederick Charles then 
transferred his headquarters to Saargemiind and the troops 
went into close cantonment and bivouacs. 

Immense supplies were captured in Saargemiind and 
also one railroad train loaded with subsistence stores that 
could not be moved by the French in their retreat. This 
indicates the haste with which the enemy executed his re- 
treat. Only single prisoners of the French 2d, 3d and 5th 
Corps were brought in ; otherwise nothing was seen of the 

*The fortress of Bitsch was called on to surrender, but de- 


Campaign of 1870-71 

enemy between Puttelange and Saaralbe. The brigades of 
the 5th Cavalry Division that had ridden in that direction, 
the 11th and the 13th, estabhshed themselves on the line 
Puttelange — Saaralbe with their outposts. 

The enemy stood in force only on the right wing of the 
Army, opposite the Illd Army Corps, on the heights this 
side of St. Avoid. He was observed there by the 6th Cav- 
alry Division. It was possible that the French 2d, 3d and 
4th Corps had concentrated there. There were many rumors 
among the rural population of the approach of the French 
Guard Corps to that vicinity and it appeared possible that 
the enemy intended to concentrate all available forces on his 
left wing to offer a decisive resistance this side of the 

This possibility was taken into account in the orders 
issued the afternoon of the 8th, while at the same time pre- 
paratory steps were taken for an advance on the Moselle on 
as large a breadth as possible. 

It was desirable for reconnaissance or pursuit of the 
enemy to make each column of marching troops of the 
army as strong in cavalry as possible. The different por- 
tions of both cavalry divisions were therefore from now on 
placed under tlje orders of that army corps, in front of which 
they found themselves in the course of their operations ; 
that is, the 6th Cavalry Division under orders of the Hid 
Army Corps, General von Rheinbaben with the 11th and 
13th Cavalry Brigade under the Xth Corps, and General 
von Bredow with the 12th Cavalry Brigade under orders of 
the IVth Army Corps.* But the cavalry commanders nearest 
the enemy had also orders to report everything important 
direct to army headquarters. The Prince also retained 
control over the dispositions of the cavalry divisions for 
battle. t 

*The Guard Corps, which also was in the first line, had the dis- 
posal of its own cavalry division. 

fBy army orders of July 31st, which regulated the conduct of 
the artillery in a tactical sense, H. R. H., the commander-in-chief 
had retained, on the battlefield, the disposition of the horse batteries 
with the corps artillery. 

— 312— 

Operations Second German Army 

In accordance with army orders the corps in the first 
line were to be on the 9th as follows : 

The Illd Army Corps in a selected position at Forbach ; 

The Xth Army Corps at Saargemiind, all its troops on 
the left bank of the Saar. 

The Guard Corps in the vicinity of Gross-Rederching 
and Rimeling, in readiness to be called up to Saargemiind. 

The IVth Army Corps echeloned on the Saarunion— 
Rohrbach road, its patrols as far to the south as practicable 
to obtain connection with the Third Army. 

In the second line, the IXth Army Corps was to reach 
St. Ingbert, the Xllth Habkirchen ; this latter corps was to 
keep its cavalry divisions out in front.* 

The 8th of August also brought the opportunity to 
regulate conditions with the First Army on the right wing. 

The First Army took the Volklingen — Ludweiler — Car- 
ling road. 

Chapter III 


At the same hour when at General Headquarters in 
Saargemiind on August 8th the army orders for August 
9th were sketched out, conditions with the enemy had again 
changed. The 6th Cavalry Division on August 8th found St. 
Avoid evacuated.! A hostile rear guard that had been 
observed in the forenoon on the hills of St. Avoid, in the 
afternoon followed its corps which marched towards Metz 
and halted, only when darkness fell, on the other side of 
Longeville. Troops of Bazaine's Corps were recognized in this 
rear guard, which undoubtedly had the duty to cover the 

*As a matter of fact the corps had its cavalry division out in 
front on the morning of August 8th. 

fThe 15th Ulan Regiment, one squadron of which went as far as 


Campaign of 1870-71 

enemy's retreat. General von Alvensleben II, who received 
information of this during the night, immediately decided 
to reach St. Avoid by a forced march on the 9th, and to push 
ahead his advance guard to the fork of the St. Avoid — Faul- 
quemont and the St. Avoid — Metz roads. These events and 
details, which cleared up the situation with the enemy, were 
reported to army headquarters during August 9th. 

The day before Marshal Bazaine had been in the city of 
St. Avoid ; his entire corps had been there. In the hospital 
of that city were found sick men from the 2d and 4th Corps. 
The supposition that the main hostile force was marching 
from the vicinity of St. Avoid towards Metz in front of the 
right wing of the Second Army, thus became a certainty,* 
Therefore the next succeeding orders had to reckon with 
the security and sufficient strength of this wing. On the 
other hand, in front of the left wing of the Second Army 
at Saarunion and Saaralbe nothing was seen of the enemy 
on August 9th. Here, considerations of connections and co- 
operation with the Third Army remained the only thing to 
be considered ; patrols of both armies had already met in 
Lemberg on August 8th. 

Thus it quite naturally resulted that for the 10th of 
August the four corps of the Second Army in front (the 
Illd, Xth, Guard and IVth Corps) were to come up to the 
line St. Avoid — Puttelange — Sarralbe — Saarunion, while the 
IXth Corps was to remain at Saarunion, and the Xllth, 
closed up at Habkirchen, The lid Army Corps also soon 
took position in this second line, and it received orders to 
echelon itself for the present from Saarbriicken up the Dud- 
weiler valley. 

The 10th of August brought orders from General Head- 
quarters for operations to commence against the Seille and 

The enemy continued his retreat toward these two 
stream lines and all three German armies were to follow 
him. The Second Army received the zone between the 

*The outcome of the battle of Spicheren had induced the French 
2d Corps to retreat south by way of Saargemiind. 


Operations Second German Army 

St. Avoid — Nomeny roads* and the Saarunion — Dieuze 
roads. t North of this zone, about opposite the Second 
Army, the First Army advanced. The Third Army could 
only reach the upper Saar on August 12th; and the corps 
of the right wing consequently had to make but short daily 
marches in order to make it easier for the corps of the Third 
Army which were marching along a large arc. 

The Second Army found itself for this advance in the 
favorable situation of being able to march with four army 
corps in the first line line along parallel roads. The other 
three corps had to remain in the second line ; the IXth and 
the lid — on account of news of the enemy — behind the 
right wing, the Xllth Corps on a more extended front in 
rear of the center. 

The following roads were assigned to the corps : 

1. To the Hid Corps the St. Avoid — Faulquemont — 
Han-sur-Nied — Buchy — ^Cheminot road; 

2. To the Xth Army Corps the Puttelange — Gros Ten- 
quin — Brulange — Delme^ — ^Nomeny road ; 

3. To the Guard Corps the Saaralbe — Altroff — Virming 
Munster — Marimont — Chateau Salins — Manhoue road. 

4. To the IVth Army Corps the Saarunion — Altweiler — 
Munster — Marimont — Chateau Salins — Manhoue road. 

Directions, as to how far the different corps were to 
proceed along these roads each day, were to be contained 
in daily orders, as that matter would depend mainly on in- 
formation received of the enemy. 

The prolongation of the direction of the four march 
routes led to the Moselle crossings at Pont-a-Mousson, Dieu- 
louard and Marbache. In the advance to those points the 
cavalry of all four corps was to hasten on ahead, followed 
by the advance guards designated for their support. The 
right and left wings were directed to keep connection with 
the other two armies. 

*This road inclusive. Under the general expression St. Avoid — 
Nomeny, headquarters of the Second Army is understood to be meant 
the Forbach — St. Avoid — Tritteling — Faulquemont — Herny — Han-sur- 
Nied — Buchy — Cheminot road. 

fThis road exclusive. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

The Hid Corps was to be followed at a day's march by 
the IXth Corps, the IXth Corps, at a greater distance by the 
lid Corps as soon as it was assembled at Saarbriicken. The 
Xllth Corps was to use as its main route the Metzing — Barst 
— Val Ebersing — Lixing — Lelling — Vahl les Faulquemont — 
Chemery — Thonville — Brulange — Vatimont — Baudrecourt — 
Morville-sur-Nied — Soigne road. 

These lines of communications, which correspond but 
little with the course of the main roads, were in many 
cases supplemented by cross and communicating roads which 
had been drawn on so that with the exception of the IXth 
and the lid Corps each army corps had free control of its 
roads of communications to the rear. 

Considerations of subsistence made it necessary to re- 
move each and every obstacle that could interfere with the 
movement of the trains. It could be foreseen that in any 
case the troops would have to live during the next few days 
by requisition. In order to avoid collisions in this, the corps 
were assigned definite sectors. A start had been made in es- 
tablishing an army reserve depot in Saargemlind since that 
place had been occupied, and the headquarters of the field 
bakeries was also brought to that place. And by orders of 
General Headquarters a depot had been established in Saar- 
albe for the right wing of the Third Army.* But in the 
rapid advance that was to be expected, there was danger 
that the communication of the troops with those points 
would be very slight and irregular. 


Early the 11th of August Prince Frederick Charles 
moved his headquarters from Saargemlind to Puttelange. 
That day the troops were to reach : 

The lid Army Corps (by rail) Neunkirchen with the 3d 
Infantry Division and Corps artillery, Homburg with the 
4th Infantry Division and headquarters. 

*August lOth 100 wagons, loaded from the depot in Saargemiind, 
of the provisional wagon park of the Xllth Army Corps were brought 
to the Third Army under escort of one squadron of the 17th Ulans 
to Saarunion, and returned empty on the 11th of August. 


Operations Second German Army 

The Illd Army Corps, Faulquemont; 

The IVth Army Corps, Saarunion ; 

The Guard Corps, Guebelange; 

The Xllth Army Corps, Saargemtind ; 

The Xth Army Corps, HelHmer (advance guard, Gross- 
Tenquin) ; 

The IXth Army Corps, Forbach. 

But in the morning of that day new reports indicated 
a sudden change in the enemy's decision. 

The cavah-y of the right wing and center had closely 
stuck to the retreating corps of Bazaine, and it reached the 
French Nied towards evening. It found that sector strong- 
ly occupied, and perceived in rear strong hostile forces 
in an excellent position. It observed bivouacs, camps and 
outposts, and also observed the march of columns from 
the direction of Metz towards Cqurcelles, Pange and Mont. 
Inhabitants, coming from the direction of Metz, confirmed 
the report that troops had arrived there coming from the 
camp at Chalons* and that other troops had marched off 
toward the Nied. They also stated that they had heard 
that the army was expecting orders for an advance east- 
ward. Traces of the 2d and 5th Corpsf found in Landroff 
and pursued via Herny to Remilly also led to the Nied posi- 
tion. Farther south the terrain was free of the enemy and 
Chateau Salins had been found to be free of the enemy. All 
this indicated the possibility that the enemy intended to 
seek a tactical decision on the right bank of the Moselle and 
that he was concentrating his fighting forces for that pur- 
pose in rear of the Nied. In that case we ought not to attack 
him with single units, but rather with all of the corps of 
the Second Army combined and to execute that attack in 
conjunction with the First Army. Therefore Second Army 
headquarters decided, as soon as these reports were con- 
firmed, to execute a right turn with the entire Second Army 
and to deploy for an offensive battle on the line Faulque- 
mont — Verny. This movement could be completed by the 

*The first echelons of the French 6th Army Corps. 
fBrigade Lapasset, that had been in Saargemiind. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

14th of August by calling for the utmost exertion of the 
troops and by leaving all unnecessary impedimenta in the 
zone occupied on August 11th. The 15th would remain 
for the approach, and the battle could be waged on the 16th 
or 17th. It would then be the intention to hold the enemy 
on the Nied in front, but to utilize the main forces of the 
army on the left of the Nied against his right flank. In or- 
der to deprive the enemy at the same time of his communi- 
cations in the Moselle valley, the enveloping left wing would 
send detachments toward Pont-a-Mousson. 

Up to the 15th of August, of course, the situation of 
fhe Illd Army Corps would be difficult. That corps formed 
the pivot of the movement. It was closest to the enemy, 
and if he decided to use the advantage still remaining to him 
for three days for an active defense, it could easily become 
engaged in a battle against superior hostile forces. On Au- 
gust 12tii the Hid Corps could be supported only by the 
IXth Corps starting early from Forbach, and leading ele- 
ments of the Xth Corps, which could be sent towards Che- 

We could of course not count on the rest of the corps 
on that day ; as shown by the just explained position of the 
corps on August 11th (see page 317). It was presumed in 
this that the First Army would be about on the line Boulay 
— Marange. 

As long as there was no absolute certainty of the ene- 
my's intentions, the initial steps of an offensive against the 
Nied had to be combined with an exceedingly rapid advance 
against the Seille. Otherwise valuable time might be lost 
by useless movements which would much favor the enemy 
if he decided on retreat and if he intended to hide his true 
intentions by a halt on the Nied. 

An advance in echelons from the left wing, which could 
be started on August 12th, would best correspond with these 
intentions for the next few days. The IVth Corps — on the 

*According' to the dispositions received at midnight August 11th 
in Puttelange from General Headquarters, the Xth Army Corps was 
to be brought up behind the Illd Corps (probably via Lelling). 


Operations Second German Army 

left of the Army — would then, as could be foreseen, also 
come into second line. 

However, caution made it necessary in any case to have 
the Illd Army Corps halt at Faulquemont and prepare a 
selected position for defense there. As early as the fore- 
noon of August 11th General von Alvensleben II received 
orders for this. At the same time a report was sent to Gen- 
eral Headquarters stating that Second Army Headquarters 
would take no further measures for a combined battle of the 
First and Second Army this side of Metz on August 16th 
or 17th until the situation had cleared and orders had been 
received from General Headquarters. 

General Headquarters still beheved the position of the 
French behind the Nied to be a mere observation position. 
This view was expressed in a note from General von Moltke 
dated at 10:45 A.M., received in Puttelange at 2:00 P.M.* 
This note left it to the discretion of the Second Army Head- 
quarters as to whether the Illd Corps should halt to let the 
remaining corps come up. This had already been ordered. 

There was, by 5 :00 P.M., no definite answer to the let- 
ter of Second Army Headquarters of that forenoon, at 
which time the Army Commander issued his orders for the 
remaining corps of the army. These orders therefore, as 
the situation was still in doubt, had to reckon with a fur- 
ther advance westward as well as with a turn to the right 
by the Army. 

The IXth Army Corps was to concentrate at St. Avoid 
on the 12th and to advance its leading elements to Longe- 
ville. There it would be ready to support the Illd Army 

In addition, on that day corps were to reach : 

the Xth Corps, Landroff ; 

the Guard Corps, Morhange; 

the IVth Corps, Munster, its leading elements Bourg 
Altroff ; 

the Xllth Corps, Barst, its leading elements Lixing; 

the lid Corps, Saarbriicken. 

*See No. 139, von Moltke's Correspondence, page 247. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

Through this movement the corps of the army would 
approach the right wing and the line of concentration Faul- 
quemont — Verny, while at the same time ground would be 
gained toward the front. 


At midnight of August 11th, the answer to the letter 
from Army Headquarters of the forenoon of the 11th was 
received from General Headquarters in Puttelange. This 
answer was dated St. Avoid 7:00 P.M., August 11th.* 

General Headquarters believed it not improbable that 
a material part of the hostile fighting forces still were on the 
left bank of the French Nied in front of Metz. It was 
the intention to bring about closer connection between the 
First and the Second Army and therefore His Majesty or- 
dered the following: 

"The lid Army Corps in Faulquemont will be the supporting 
point for the junction of both armies. 

"The First Army will march early tomorrow with two corps 
to the line Boulay — Marhange, with one corps to Boucheborn. 

"The Second Army sends the IXth Corps to Longeville, west 
of St. Avoid, toward which latter place the lid Army Corps, as 
far as it is available, will close up. The Xth Army Corps pro- 
ceeds (about via Lelling) to in rear of the Hid Corps. The 
Guard, IVth, and Xllth Army Corps are to be drawn up towards 
the left of the above designated position in such manner that they 
can join that position if required, or continue the march in the 
direction of Nancy. 

"The outposts of the First Army will in general be advanced 
to the German Nied. 

"All army corps will leave the second section of their trains 
in the districts occupied today, leaving the roads completely clear." 

The orders issued by Second Army Headquarters at 
5:00 P.M., August 11th, corresponded almost completely 
with these orders from General Headquarters. Both Head- 
quarters started with the same point of view and this fact 
saved the troops hard marches which otherwise could not 
have been avoided as the situation was precarious. 

Only the lid Army Corps received orders by telegraph 
on the morning of August 12th to march, in so far as it was 
ready therefor, on the same day and on August 13th to St. 

*See No. 141, von Moltke's Correspondence, page 247. 


Operations Second German Army 

Avoid. As was ascertained later on, these orders did not 
reach the corps, but a duplicate thereof, dated at noon, did 
reach the corps. Therefore the army corps was only able 
on the 12th to send one infantry regiment by rail to St. 

On the morning of August 12th the Prince moved his 
headquarters to Gross-Tenquin. There new reports arrived 
in the course of the day which showed that, even if the en- 
emy had drawn all his available forces on the Moselle to 
Metz, he was nevertheless about to withdraw across that 
river through Metz.* The position on the Nied had been 
evacuated on August 11th, and the French army camped un- 
der the guns of the fortress ; officers' patrols of both cavalry 
divisions had observed bivouac fires there the evening be- 
fore. In the morning of August 12th detachments of both 
cavalry divisions had followed the French to across the 
Nied as far as the line Coincy — Ars-Laquenexy — Peltre 
and had there seen large tent camps close to Metz and north- 
east of that city. The terrain behind the Nied was found to 
be fortified as a battlefield. Walls had been loopholed, 
trenches and gun emplacements constructed. Some shots 
were exchanged, until the enemy pushed the cavalry back 
with his infantry. 

The thought arose that the enemy would cross the river, 
take position on the left of the Moselle and utilize Metz as 
a bridge head. 

However, on the 11th the leading elements of the cav- 
alry of the Second Army had ridden as far as the Moselle 
and the Meurthe towards Pont-a-Mousson, Dieulouard, 
Nancyt and St. Nicholas-du-Port, without seeing anything 
whatever of the enemy. It was found that the bridges 
across the Moselle at Dieulouard were intact and our 
cavalry then destroyed there the telegraph line be- 
tween Metz and Nancy. These reports contradicted 

*With due regard to the intended concentration on the line Faul- 
quement — Verny, Headquarters in Gross-Tenquin had outlined or- 
ders for the 13th of August, but which now, as the situation had 
changed, could not be published to the troops. 

fNancy itself was found by one squadron of the 10th "Hussars 
free of the enemy on August 12th. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

the views held. In order to determine matters, it 
appeared necessary to send larger bodies of cavalry 
as rapidly as possible across the river to the pla- 
teau between the Moselle and Meuse. Therefore General von 
Voights-Rhetz received orders at 2:00 P.M., August 12th, 
to charge General von Rheinbaben with that important 
task. It was intended to again assemble the entire 5th 
Cavalry Division into one body. The IVth Army Corps was 
instructed to bring Bredow's Brigade, so far under its or- 
ders, to the front on August 13th and have it join the divi- 
sion. August 12th General von Rheinbaben was to march 
on Pont-a-Mousson and Dieulouard and his command was 
to be followed early on the 13th by one infantry division of 
the Xth Army Corps with the light field bridge train via 
Delme to Pont-a-Mousson. The advance guard of that divi- 
sion was to be sent out as soon as possible. Thus it was in- 
tended to take possession of the important point of Pont-a- 
Mousson and keep up permanent connection with the cav- 
alry; and the cavalry now received orders to advance along 
the plateau between the Moselle and the Meuse in a nor- 
therly direction against the Metz — Verdun road and to as- 
certain as soon as practicable if the enemy was retreating 
from Metz along that road. 

The Illd Army Corps was to instruct the 6th Cavalry 
Division to extend its left as rapidly as possible across 
the Seille towards the Moselle above Metz, so as to keep 
an eye from there on the roads leading west and to screen 
the entire intended movement against the fortress. The 
orders therefore called special attention to the prominently 
situated Chateau St. Blaise east of Jouy-aux-Arches from 
which place a good view could be had on the important 
roads and on the fortress of Metz. The 6th Cavalry Divi- 
vision also was instructed to seek connection with General 
von Rheinbaben. 

The First Army was informed of these orders. It was 
presumed that the First Army would direct a similar opera- 
tion of its cavalry below Metz and it was hoped to thus gain 
a clear insight into the enemy's intentions. 


Operations Second German Army 

Before the army corps received their orders for the 
march on the 13th, orders from General Headquarters 
had to be awaited. These latter were received in Gross-Ten- 
quin at 5:15 P.M.* According to them all three armies were 
to continue the advance towards the Moselle, the First Army- 
was to start on the 13th for the line Les Etangs — Pange, its 
cavalry to proceed toward Metz and cross the Moselle below 
that place. This move would at the same time secure the 
right flank of the Second Army. The Second Army received 
orders to reach the line Buchy — Chateau Salins on August 
13th, to push outposts to the Seille, to gain if possible the 
crossings over the Moselle at Pont-a-Mousson, Dieulouard, 
Marbache, etc., and to have its cavalry reconnoiter to be- 
yond the Moselle. 

The Third Army received orders to continue its advance 
towards the line Nancy — Luneville. 

As far as the Moselle and the Meurthe it was permitted 
to have the trains follow their respective army corps. 

Prince Frederick Charles, while in Puttelange, had es- 
tablished connection with the Third Army and telegraphic 
communication had been established into the district of that 
army by way of Saargemlind — Saaralbe — Saarunion. It 
was then known that that army would reach on August 13th 
the line Loudresing — Bisping — Azoudange — Avricourt — Re- 
paix (near Blamont). 

The corps of the Second Army now received the fol- 
lowing march objectives for August 13th : 

the Hid Army Corps, Bechy, leading elements, Buchy; 

the IXth Army Corps, Many, leading elements, Herny; 

the Xllth Army Corps, Chemery, leading elements, 
Thonville ; 

the Xth Army Corps, in so far as not already started 
toward the Moselle, Lucy ; 

the Guard Corps, Oron, leading elements, Lemoncourt ; 

the IVth Army Corps, Chateau-Salins ; 

the lid Army Corps, St. Avoid. 

*See No. 149, von Moltke's Correspondence, page 251. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

On receipt of the orders dated ^t 2:00 P.M. General von 
Voigts-Rhetz had sent not only the cavalry under General 
von Rheinbaben but also the 19th Infantry Division to- 
wards Pont-a-Mousson, and the latter division had reached 
Delme by August 12th. The cavalry scouted as far as the 
Moselle, one squadron of the 17th Brunswick Hussars even 
going beyond the river to the railroad depot at Frouard and 
there destroying the telegraph line and the roadbed by 
removing some rails. The squadron became engaged with 
the enemy there. A train had just arrived at that depot 
carrying hostile infantry. That infantry left the cars and 
opened fire on the squadron, which then retreated but 
taking along its wounded and some prisoners.* At Cham- 
pigneulles patrols also encountered French infantry. 

An officer's patrol that had been sent to Pont-a-Mous- 
son had been attacked in the evening by hostile cavalry and 
it appeared that Pont-a-Mousson had been reoccupied by 
the French with all arms. 


After Pont-a-Mousson had been reoccupied by the ene- 
my it was believed that the defile would have to be forced by 
fighting. In the course of the forenoon however the cavalry 
found that that place had again been evacuated, that the 
bridge there was intact, and General von Rheinbaben imme- 
diately proceeded across the river (the 17th Brunswick Hus- 
sars proceeded as far as Regneville). The 19th Infantry 
Division had also continued its march during the forenoon of 
the 13th, reached Pont-a-Mousson with its advance guard, 
and brought the main body also up to that place. Thereafter 
General von Voigts-Rhetz brought the rest of his command 
up to Delme so as not to let the march column of his corps 
get too long and took his headquarters to Aulnois-sur-Seille. 

Thus, the Xth Army Corps had executed far more than 
it was charged with by orders from army headquarters and 

*The prisoners belonged to the 26th and 68th Line Regiments, 
the 1st Regiment Algerian Tirailleurs, the 16th Battalion Chasseurs 
a pied and also to the French 6th, 5th and 1st Corps. They stated 
in general that that train came from Metz and its destination had been 


Operations Second German Army 

had gained the advantage for that army of being, on August 
13th, in secure possession of the most important Moselle 

In the morning the commanding general of the Second 
Army had transferred his headquarters to Delme and there 
received the first reports in the afternoon from the Xth Army 
Corps concerning the occupation of Pont-a-Mousson. It ap- 
peared important to have a second crossing at that point 
as soon as possible, and therefore the chief engineer officer 
of the army received immediate orders to start the construc- 
tion of a ponton bridge there. 

The task of the Second Army was now a double one. 
It was known for certain that there was at Metz, or march- 
ing through that place towards the Meuse, the French 2d, 
3d, 4th and portions of the 5th Corps (Brigade of Lapasset) , 
which had been opposite the German armies on the frontier. 
In addition, the presence of the French Guards had been 
ascertained by sick of that corps found in the hospital at 
Courcelles — Chaussy. The 5th Cavalry Division had taken 
some prisoners at Frouard belonging to the French 6th 
Corps. The forces which the enemy had concentrated at 
Metz were therefore so strong that they would require the 
entire attention of the German First and Second Army. On 
the other hand, it was necessary to keep ahead of the enemy 
for subsequent operations into the enemy's country and to 
utilize the advantages so far gained. 

For this it was necessary to cross the Moselle as rap- 
idly as possible and gain a firm foothold in full force on the 
plateau between the Moselle and the Meuse. 

To correctly estimate the events now starting it is nec- 
essary to remember that the fortress of Metz dominated 
with the guns of its forts on both banks of the Moselle an 
area of about six [English] miles square. 

In this space sides on both the banks of the river are 
covered with woods, vineyards, orchards, villages and sin- 
gle farm houses making a view difficult. Only from some 
of the higher points along the banks of the Moselle, as for 
instance from the Chateau St. Blaise, can a clear view be 


Campaign of 1870-71 

had into the terrain between the forts. If these points were 
not immediately located, patrols could nevertheless ascer- 
tain that hostile troops were camped in that terrain; but 
it would remain difficult to estimate the strength of those 
troops, even if only approximately. The question whether 
the main body of the French army still was between the 
forts and the fortress, or had already started for the Meuse 
could be definitely answered only after the roads to Ver- 
dun and north thereof had been occupied by the German 
cavalry. Until that happened, the dispositions of the Second 
Army had to be based on a double task. The army orders 
issued from Delme on the 13th, at 8 :00 P.M., were also based 
on that view. 

These orders contained the following directions for 
August 14th : 

"Tomorrow (the 14th) the Second Army will approach 
closer to the Moselle and in doing so keep a sharp eye on 
developments around Metz. 

"1. Tomorrow the 5th Cavalry Division will proceed to 
the plateau betvv'een the Moselle and the Meuse toward 
Thiaucourt and will send its leading elements in a northerly 
direction to observe the Metz — Verdun road. The point Les 
Baraques east of Chambley and the plateau northwest of 
Gorze permit a good view along that road. 

"2. In rear of the 5th Cavalry Division the Xth Army 
Corps will concentrate in and around Pont-a-Mousson along 
both banks of the Moselle. It will occupy with infantry de- 
tachments the roads leading to Metz in the valley of the 
Moselle on both banks and to the point where the Pont-a- 
Mousson — Flirey and Pont-a-Mousson — Thiaucourt roads 
diverge. Connection with the advance guard of the Guard 
Corps on the left bank is to be sought. 

"The Xth Army Corps will construct a crossing over the 
Mosel at about Atton on the 14th and may use for that pur- 
pose, if necessary, the light field bridge train of the Hid 
Army Corps. That portion of the Xth Army Corps still on 
the right bank of the Seille will not start until after 3:00 


Operations Second German Army 

Thus, the Xth Army Corps now assumed the role of 
advance guard to the Army. 

"3. The Illd Army Corps will tomorrow reach with its 
leading elements and headquarters Cheminot by way of 
Louvigny-sur-Seille, rear elements closing up to Vigny. A 
few squadrons of the 6th Cavalry Division will tomorrow 
take over the security of the right wing of the Second Army 
against Metz. 

"4. On the 14th the IXth Army Corps will reach Buchy 
with its leading elements and its headquarters will take 
station there. Rear elements closed up as far as Many.* 

"5. The Xllth (Royal Saxon) Army Corps marches via 
Brulange, Vatimont, Vaudrecourt, Morville-sur-Nied, Trag- 
ny and Moncheu with its leading elements to opposite 
Soigne, where its headquarters will be, and its rear ele- 
ments will close up to Vatimont. The cavalry division will 
march with the leading elements, as the commanding general 
of the Second Army intends to employ the cavalry on the 
other side of the Moselle. 

"6. The Guard Corps will tomorrow send two cavalry 
brigades with horse artillery and the advance guard (which 
must have crossed the Seille by 9 o'clock) to Dieulouard. 
Rear elements to close up on the Seille. Headquarters Ar- 

"7. The IVth Army Corps will march tomorrow towards 
the Seille in the direction of the Moselle crossing at Mar- 
bache, headquarters in Manhoue-on-the-Seille. Rear ele- 
ments closing up as far as Chateau Salins. 

"8. Army Headquarters goes to Pont-a-Mousson." 

Thus, it was the intention on the right wing of the 
Army to free the Hid Army Corps for further operations 
against and beyond the Moselle. 

On August 14th the IXth Army Corps, in readiness 
at Buchy, resumed its prior role of supporting the First 
Army. The lid Army Corps, which again had orders to 
follow the IX Corps in a similar manner, could not bring 

*The Corps was to leave infantry at Herny as long as General 
Headquarters remained there. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

its main body on the 14th to beyond St. Avoid. Orders 
from army headquarters reached it too late, as stated above. 
Material loss of time had occurred in the transportation by 
rail of its last echelons. It was impossible to transport 
these echelons by rail direct via Homburg and Neunkirchen 
and thus the corps could only be concentrated at St. Avoid 
by August 14th.* 

After orders had been issued a report arrived at Head- 
quarters in Delme on the evening of the 13th that the ad- 
vance guard cavalry of the Guard Corps had reached the 
bridge at Dieulouard. One horse battery was with the cav- 
alry (the Guard Dragoon Brigade) ; one company of the Fus- 
ilier battalion of the Kaiser Alexander Guard Grenadier 
regiment was sent there in the afternoon by wagons to 
guard that bridge, and for the same purpose the 19th In- 
fantry Division detached two battalions from Pont-a-Mous- 
son to Dieulouard (these battalions belonged to the 57th 
Infantry). During the afternoon four trains loaded with 
French infantry came from Frouard towards Dieulouard 
as far as the interruption of the road. Three of them im- 
mediately went back, while the fourth was fired on by the 
horse battery that just then arrived; it. then also went 

As the river crossing at Dieulouard was now also in 
secure possession of the Second Army, its cavalry hav- 
ing made use of it twice before on the 11th and 12th, the 
Moselle could now be crossed at several points without loss 
of time. The rapidity with which the Second Army ad- 
vanced to the other side of the Moselle now depended only 
on conditions at Metz. These were to take such shape that 
as a matter of fact a delay had to occur on the 14th on the 
part of the right wing of the Army. 


Large hostile bodies had been on the 13th at Borny 
and Servigny east of Metz. In the afternoon of that day 

* Leading elements and headquarters marched on the 14th to Faul- 
quemont, the rest closed up to St. Avoid. 

fThus the trains of the French 6th Corps were definitely stopped. 


Operations Second German Army 

General Headquarters had been moved to Herny. From 
there, at 1 :30 A.M., the 14th of August, the following orders 
were received in Delme, dated 9:00 P.M., August 13th:* 

"The First Army remains tomorrow, the 14th August, 
in its positions on the French Nied and observes by ad- 
vanced advance guards if the enemy withdraws or if he 
advances to attack. 

"Should the latter be the case the Hid Corps of the Sec- 
ond Army will be sent tomorrow to opposite the heights of 
Pagny, the IXth to Buchy in the direction of the Moselle 
(Pont-a-Mousson), where, by starting early, they will be 
in readiness at a distance of 4J [English] miles to par- 
ticipate in any serious action in front of Metz. The road 
from Herny via Buchy to Pagny is to be kept clear of all 

"On the other hand, the First Army is in a situation to 
prevent any advance of the enemy southward by a flank at- 

"The other corps of the Second Army will continue their 
advance toward the Moselle stretch Pont-a-Mousson — Mar- 

"The Xth Corps will take position in front of Pont-a- 

"The cavalry of both armies will be sent ahead as far 
as possible and must interrupt a possible retreat of the 
enemy along the Metz — Verdun road." 

Thus, the masses which the enemy had assembled 
at Metz appeared to be important enough to keep two 
corps in readiness to cooperate with the First Army. 

Both corps had received instructions as to their task 
direct from General Headquarters. 

Still they received special orders from the Prince at 
6:00 A.M. on the 14th — the Hid to concentrate at Pagny-les- 
Coin, the IXth to close up towards Buchy. 

Headquarters of the Second Army no longer thought 
it possible that a hostile offense would take place from Metz 
along the right bank of the Moselle, but still reckoned with 

*See No. 155, von Moltke's correspondence, page 253. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

that possibility. It was the intention at that time, if the 
French Army did not advance, to concentrate the IXth and 
the Illd Corps in first hne, the Xllth in rear of the right, 
the Xth, which in the meantime was still to occupy Pont-a- 
Mousson, in rear of the left wing in a defensive position, 
say at Soigne. These corps were to participate in any case 
in any action that might start. For August 15th the line 
Pont-a-Mousson — Delme appeared to be advantageous for 

To that point the enemy would have to cover a longer 
distance and it could well become possible that other por- 
tions of the Third Army might be brought up for the decis- 

In the forenoon of August 14th Army Headquarters 
was transferred to Pont-a-Mousson. 

There reports were received in the afternoon from the 
5th Cavalry Division, dated 12 :45 noon, which stated that 
the division had entered Thiaucourt and Beney and would 
send forward detachments toward the Metz — Verdun road 
in the afternoon. 

Nothing had been seen of the enemy in front of the 
division nor in the vicinity of Pagny in the Moselle valley ;t 
connection with the Guard Dragoon Brigade had been estab- 

The Xth Army Corps completed its concentration 
around Pont-a-Mousson on both banks of the Moselle. 

The Guard Cavalry Division^ arrived at Rogeville and 
sent detachments toward Flirey, Toul and Gondreville. The 
enemy was encountered only in the outskirts of Toul, other- 
wise the entire terrain west of the Moselle was found free of 
the enemy. The Guard Corps increased on that day the 
marches of the troops of its main body to beyond the objec- 
tive originally set it. Its first infantry division marched as 

*But these measures did not come up for execution, as the enemy 
remained on the defensive. 

fin the course of the day the Brunswick Hussars encountered 
Chasseurs d'Afrique. 

|The Guard Dragoon and Guard Ulan Brigade with two 
horse batteries, the Guard Cuirassier Brigade remaining at Jean- 


Operations Second German Army 

far as Dieulouard from where an advance guard was sent 
still further west; the remainder of the corps marched to 
the vicinity of Sivry.* 

The plateau on the other side of the Moselle was now 
covered with German cavalry and there was no longer any 
possibility of the enemy's marching southwestward from 
Metz. Only to the west and northwest was there a way open 
to him. 

The IVth and the Xllth Corps completed the marches 

On the right wing of the army was the Illdf and the 
IXth Army Corps at the points assigned them ready to sup- 
port the First Army. However by 3 :30 P.M. no reports had 
arrived at Headquarters in Pont-a-Mousson that an engage- 
ment was developing at Metz and the army commander 
thought the time had arrived to leave it to the discretion 
of the Hid Army Corps to today still fulfill its task and to 
march to Cheminot. 

When by 6:00 P.M. no reports had been received from 
the district occupied by the right wing, the army orders for 
the 15th were issued. The intention was to bring the en- 
tire army to the Moselle on that day, to have all corps 
cross the river, and to start operations with all forces con- 
centrated toward the northwest. These orders contained 
the following principal points: 

1. The Xth Army Corps will concentrate in Pont-a- 
Mousson and on the left bank, will cover the Moselle valley 
downstream towards Metz and will reinforce its advance 
guard, t 

*The other infantry division of the corps was between Moivrons 
and Arraye, the corps artillery between the two infantry divisions at 
Belleau, with headquarters at Sivry. 

fThe Illd Corps was located as follows: The 5th Inf. Div. with 
Louvigny in its front, the 6th Inf. Div. with Pagny in its front, 
right at Vigny, behind the hills. The corps artillery was in the 
valley north of Allemont, the 6th Cavalry Div. ahead on the line 
Corny — Coin-les-Cuvry — Cuvry — Chesny, its main body at Orny, 
Cheresey, Pournoy and Verny. Headquarters in Allemont. The 
IXth Corps went into bivouacs at Buchy, Bechy and Luppy. Details 
concerning these corps will be found below (see page 332). 

JThe advance guard was at the fork of the Pont-a-Mousson — 
Flirey and Pont-a-Mousson — Thiaucourt roads. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

2. The Guard Corps will close up toward Dieulouard, 
its advance guard to be sent as far as les Quatre Vents ; its 
cavalry now at Rogeville to move out still farther in close 
connection with the 5th Cavalry Division. 

3. The IVth Army Corps will march to Custines — ad- 
vance guard and cavalry to Marbache — and will connect to- 
ward the left in the direction of Nancy with the Third Army. 

4. The Illd Corps, on the right wing of the army, 
marches with the 6th Cavalry Division* on the 15th to 
Cheminot, in so far as that march has not been made on the 

5. The IXth Army Corps remains at Buchy to be on 
hand on the 15th in casa of an engagement in front of the 
works of Metz. 

6. The lid Army Corps marches with its leading ele- 
ments to Han-sur-Nied and in echelon if conditions re- 
quire as far as to beyond Faulquemont.f 

7. The Xllth (Royal Saxon) Army Corps will reach 
Nomeny with its leading elements, its headquarters taking 
station there, its rear elements brought up in line with 

8. Headquarters remains in Pont-a-Mousson on the 

The basis of the directions sent at 3:30 P.M. to the 
Illd Corps and also for these army orders was that no change 
had occurred in the situation at Metz. But at 8:15 P.M. 
th<i Prince received a report from the observation post at 
Chauteau Mousson that extensive lines of powder smoke 
were seen since 7 o'clock east of Metz, apparently the re- 
sults of a hot fight. 

The 6th Cavalry Division had heard the thunder of 
cannon at 5 :00 P.M. coming from west of the French Nied. 
The division reconnoitered in that direction, and General 
von Alvensleben II with the 5th Infantry Division and the 
corps artillery remained in readiness for starting at Verny 

*When these orders were issued it was not known at head- 
quarters what General von Alvensleben had done in pursuance to 
orders of 3:30 P.M. 

fGeneral Headquarters at Herny was to receive an infantry 
guard from this corps. 


Operations Second German Army 

for the battlefield, the more so as he learned that portions 
of the IXth Corps had already been alarmed. Therefore the 
march to Cheminot was not made on the 14th. 

These events were known at Headquarters at Pont-a- 
Mousson, when toward midnight orders were received from 
General Headquarters directing for the 15th that, on the 
right wing of the Second Army, the Hid, IXth, and Xllth 
Corps were to halt with their leading elements, close up and 
cook meals. The First Army also received directions to re- 
main in general in its positions as held on the 14th. The 
Vlllth Army Corps was to be brought into line at Bazon- 
court — Aube, thus approaching the right wing of the Second 
Army, and the shifting to the left, becoming necessary later, 
was thus inaugurated. The cavalry of that army, especially 
the 3d Cavalry Division, did not receive any limits as to its 
forward movements. 

It was emphasized that it was necessary to advance with 
stronger forces on the left bank of the Moselle against the 
enemy's lines of communication from Metz to Verdun. 

"For that purpose," read the orders, "the Second Army 
will send all cavalry available to the left bank of the 
Moselle and support it in the direction of Gorze and 
Thiaucourt by those corps that cross the Moselle first. There- 
fore the Hid Army Corps must prepare a crossing tomorrow 
below Pont-a-Mousson. The Ild Army Corps will continue 
its march in its present direction," 

Concerning the start of operations on the other side of 
the Moselle, the measures taken by Second Army headquar- 
ters were a proper basis for the execution of the orders 
from General Headquarters. They diverged from those or- 
ders only in regard to the three corps of the right wing. But 
these three corps had received orders direct from General 
Headquarters.* And the letter from General Headquarters 
was dated at Herny at 6:00 P.M. the 14th, that is, at an 

*In regard to this H.R.H. the Crown Prince of Saxony re- 
ported at 10:30 P.M., August 14th, that the Xllth Army Corps, 
in accordance with orders from General Headquarters received by 
it at 9:00 P.M., would be concentrated at 7:00 A.M. on the road from 
Delme to Soigne and would there await further orders. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

hour when the development and result of the action in front 
of Metz could have had no bearing on the decisions arrived 
at. It remained therefore possible that the orders issued 
would be modified in accordance with the changed conditions, 
and that event was then awaited. 


Concerning the engagement of the First Army on the 
14th of August Second Army Headquarters learned at 4:15 
A.M., August 15th, from General von Alvensleben II, that 
it had been victoriously finished through the effective inter- 
ference of the 18th Infantry Division. Two hours later Gen- 
eral von Moltke wired that the 1st and Vllth Corps had, after 
a heavy fight on the evening of the 14th thrown strong hos- 
tile forces into Metz, that portions of the 18th Infantry Divi- 
sion had participated, that the IXth Corps would march to 
the battlefield today, and that General Headquarters would 
retain disposition of the Hid Corps for the present. He 
added that pursuit along the Metz — Verdun road was im- 

Details had become known in the meantime through 
reports from the IXth Army Corps. From these it was 
learned that portions of the 18th Infantry Division advanc- 
ing along the Buchy — Metz road, had become active in the 
battle during the final phases thereof. 

Prior to the battle the IXth Corps was camped with the 
18th Infantry Division at Buchy, the 25th Division at Bechy 
with the corps artillery at Luppy, where also corps head- 
quarters was. The outposts had been advanced as far as 
Orny and Remilly. From 5:00 P.M. on the thunder of cannon 
was heard at Orny and it was seen from the hills there that 
an engagement was in progress at Colombey. Reports re- 
ceived from the battlefield caused the commander of the 
18th Infantry Division (General von Wrangel) to assume 
that an advance against the enemy's right flank would be 
very advantageous for the course of the battle. He there- 
fore alarmed his division and at once started (at 6:00 P.M.) 
with the advance guard. The enemy was seen at Peltre and 


Operations Second German Army 

Mercy-le-Haut and the march was directed on those points. 
Both places were taken at dark with little loss and then, 
especially through the artillery effect at Mercy-le-Haut, the 
operation was continued against the enemy's right flank. 
Only during the night did the troops that had been engaged 
return to their bivouacs ; their loss being about 36 men. 

In the meantime the corps artillery of the IXth Army 
Corps had been moved to Buchy, and the 25th Infantry Divi- 
sion to Luppy, to be in readiness there on the 15th for either 
employment towards the north or for marching westward. 

Guarding all the roads leading west from Metz, and 
rapid pursuit if the enemy should turn westward, were now 
the two important missions. Of great importance were 
now two reports from the 5th Cavalry Division which were 
received by Second Army Headquarters about midnight 
August 14th and which contained information of the results 
of reconnaissances carried on on the 14th. The first report 
came from an officer's patrol that had been sent towards 
Les Baraques and which stated that at 11:30 A.M. nothing 
had been seen of the enemy either on the Metz — Verdun 
road or anywhere west of Metz. 

General von Rheinbaben had added to this message 
that — according to the statements of a reliable inhabitant 
— Marshal Bazaine had been appointed commander-in-chief 
of the French army at Metz and that that army would ac- 
cept a decision there. 

The second report came from an officer sent to the 
heights near Jouy-aux-Arches. According to this, only un- 
important bivouacs were in front of Metz and on the left 
bank of the Moselle. The Forts gave the impression of being 
unfinished, the entire country seemed deserted and indica- 
tions were that strong columns had marched early the 14th 
from Metz westward. But the engagement on the 14th con- 
tradicted in part this second report, nevertheless Head- 
quarters at Pont-a-Mousson was justified in assuming it 
possible — according to the reports it had on the forenoon of 
the 15th concerning the battle — that only strong rear guards 
of the hostile army had made a stand there. The contra- 


Campaign of 1870-71 

diction between the two reports remained unsolved ; it w^as 
very important to fully clear up this matter. 

The commander-in-chief now decided, to make the en- 
tire Xth Army Corps and the 5th Cavalry Division available 
for operations on the left bank of the Moselle, and to rein- 
force the corps by the Guard Dragoon Brigade at Rogeville. 
The Guard Corps received orders to send that brigade on 
the 15th to Thiaucourt. It placed a second cavalry brigade 
in readiness (the 1st Guard Cavalry Brigade) at Vernecourt. 
General von Voigts-Rhetz was to send his thus reinforced 
cavalry with horse artillery to the Metz — Verdun road as 
rapidly as possible, and he then was to march along that 
road towards Metz until a clear view was gained as to condi- 
tions there, connection to be made in this movement with 
the cavalry of the First Army to the west of Metz. The 
general was to dispose of his infantry divisions so that they 
could serve as a support for his cavalry, and so as to cer- 
tainly determine in the Moselle valley and on its left bank 
the conditions with regard to the enemy. 

It was the intention to relieve the Xth Corps from the 
duty of securing Pont-a-Mousson and to bring to that place 
one division of the Guard Corps ; but General von Voigts- 
Rhetz sent instead the 19th Infantry Division to Thiaucourt 
and one detachment of that division down the Moselle val- 
ley to Noveant and remained with the 20th Infantry Divi- 
sion in bivouac at Pont-a-Mousson, so that that place was 
covered thereby. His cavalry marched on Fresnes-en-Woe- 
vre, and was now to debouch towards Metz and solve its 
task in that manner. 

As the measures which General Headquarters had taken 
on the 14th, prior to its knowledge of the battle east of Metz 
still remained in force after the battle, to the effect that 
the Hid, IXth and Xllth Corps had to be in readiness on the 
15th for carrying on any engagement on the 15th east of 
Metz, General von Alvensleben II received orders at 7:00 
A.M. the 15th not to continue his march on Cheminot. He 
was to halt with his corps, rest, cook meals, and await orders 
direct from General Headquarters. 


Operations Second German Army 

However, these orders crossed with a report of the 
General sent to Pont-a-Mousson that he had decided not to 
execute the army orders of the 14th, but to march to the 
Moselle and still cross that river today if possible. He had 
arrived at that decision as the result of the battle of the 

In addition, the Hid Army Corps was able to perform 
material marches on the 15th and there was a wish to act 
as rapidly as possible in the very tense situation now ob- 
taining. The commander of the Second Army did not with- 
hold his approval of this striving for independent action, 
but repeated his orders to halt, as the General could not 
know the contents of the last telegram from General Head- 
quarters to Second Army Headquarters. 

But the preparations for the crossing of the Moselle 
were to be continued. 

It could be only a question of hours until the intentions 
of the enemy became known for certain and until the Second 
Army received full freedom again as to disposing of its 
corps. Then all doubts would be raised and operations to 
the west could be continued with greater energy. 

No further orders were issued to the IXth and Xllth 
Corps ; for army orders of the afternoon of the 14th con- 
tained important directions for the IXth Corps. The Xllth 
Corps had reported that, according to orders from army 
headquarters, it would ba echeloned on the Delme — Soigne 
road and it was certain that it would receive necessary or- 
ders direct from General Headquarters. 

Chapter IV 




It may be well here to briefly recount how the supply 
matters of the army were regulated during the rapid ad- 


Campaign of 1870-71 

vance to the Saar and from there to the Moselle. The meas- 
ures that were taken at the opening of the campaign to pro- 
vide subsistence for the army have been mentioned. The 
difficulties that were foreseen during the advance through 
the mountains of the Palatinate — so poor in animals and 
grain — had caused Second Army Headquarters to recom- 
mend as early as August 1st in Alzey that provision trains 
be inserted among the field trains. In consequence there- 
of three provision trains were sent daily after August 3d 
to the army by way of Bingen. When the cavalry started 
for the frontier the supplies stored along the Rhine were also 
sent forward along the Ludwigshafen — Kaiserslautern — 
Homburg railroad. Thus, there had been plenty of subsis- 
tence stores for the army until it reached the Saar. In the 
subsequent operations to the Moselle, during which the army 
traversed a relatively rich district in its rapid advance, re- 
quisitions were found to be an excellent auxiliary means, 
so that supplies carried on the trains could be saved for 
more difficult times. The supplies captured from the ene- 
my in Saargemiind and Forbach also came in very handily 
for the troops. Starting on August 13th all available sup- 
plies in Neunkirchen, where the supplies brought by way 
of Bingen had been stored, were brought to Forbach, St. 
Avoid, Faulquemont and Herny. But the army corps re- 
ceived instructions to replenish their trains, as soon as 
necessary, from the supplies at Neunkirchen. When the 
army arrived at the Moselle it still had from four to five 
days' provisions on hand, so that steps could then be taken 
without danger directing that all provisions not of the best 
quality could be left behind by the trains, which could then 
send their empty wagons to the stations along the Saar- 
briicken — Remilly railroad to reload new supplies. In the 
meantime the station of Remilly had become headquarters 
nf the lines of communications. 

It is known that the regulation of the lines of com- 
munications to the rear of the army at the opening of 
the campaign was in the hands of the lines of communica- 
tion headquarters of the army. These headquarters had 
under their orders difi'erent units for construction and traf- 


Operations Second German Army 

fie of railroads the telegraph lines in the enemy's country, 
that is. one fortress company and the personnel for estab- 
lishing lines of communication stations and depots, etc. 

L. of C. headquarters followed Second Army Head- 
quarters by way of Saargemiind and Delme to Pont-a-Mous- 

To secure the connections, occupation of L. of C. depots 
and stations and the points becoming of importance in the 
rear of the army, the 3d Landwehr Division had originally 
been assigned to the L. of C. But as early as August 8th 
Second Army Headquarters received a letter from General 
Headquarters informing them that this Landwehr Division 
had received other orders. It was to be detrained at Kaisers- 
lautern and remain in readiness there for other employment. 
In its place the L. of C. of the Second Army received eight 
battalions and four squadrons of occupation troops and these 
were: the 53d, 56th, 16th and 55th Landwehr Regiments 
and the 5th Hussar Regiment. But of these infantry regi- 
ments the first two were located in Wesel, the other two in 
Minden and the Hussars in Paderborn. From these places 
they were to be transported by rail to Mosbach, and to be 
disposable there on and after August 10th. The fact that 
great delays occurred in the transportation of troops from 
the home districts to the frontier has been explained when 
discussing the bringing up of the II Corps to the Army. Con- 
sidering the very rapid advance of the Second Army to- 
wards the Mosel, which had started in the meantime, the 
difficulties of bringing these occupation troops up became 
greater and greater and when on August 12th General 
Headquarters assigned railroad lines A and C to the Second 
Army as well as the French railroads west of Saar- 
briicken for supply purposes. Headquarters of the L. of 
C. as a matter of fact had no troops at all. Even the fortress 
pioneers assigned for duty to it had not yet arrived. And 
the Second Army could make no detachments for L. of C. 
purposes now nor in the next few days, considering the 
very tense tactical situation. 

However, as the single railroad line in question, 
the Saarbriicken — Remilly railroad, was secured by the 


Campaign of 1870-71 

advance of the Second Army, this bad feature of having no 
L. of C. troops was the less felt. That line could resume 
operation at once, and as early as the 13th provision trains 
were running on it to the troops. August 15th traffic was 
extended to Remilly and immediately thereafter to Cour- 
celles. Thus Remilly became the headquarters of the L. of C. 
of the Second Army, Courcelles of the First Army. 

In addition, on August 13th construction was started 
on the Remilly — Pont-a-Mousson railroad (for passing 
around Metz). 

We should not forget to mention here that the army had 
so far been in uninterrupted telegraphic communication with 
home and with General Headquarters. The construction 
and repair of the French telegraph lines kept step with the 
advance of the troops. The great advantage accruing by 
this to the leadership of the army, is of course seen in the 
rapid exchange of reports and orders which made it re- 
peatedly possible to dominate the situation without causing 
the troops to make detours. 

Chapter V 



The situation of the Second Army during the forenoon 
of August 15th was, briefly repeated, as follows : 

On the right was the Hid AiTny Corps, stopped in its 
march (which had been commenced early that morning 
towards Cheminot) by direct orders of Prince Frederick 
Charles, between the Seille and Moselle;* the IXth Corps 

*The 5th Infantry Division from Pournoy-la-Chetive to Sillegny, 
the 6th at Bouxieres-sous-Froidemont, the corps artillery south of 
that place, the 6th Cavalry Division on the line Marly-sur-Seille— 
Jouy-aux-Arches covering against Metz, headquarters in Sillegny. 


Operations Second German Army 

by direct order from General Headquarters at Mercy-le- 
Haut and Grugy; the Xllth Corps on the Delme — Soigne 
road waiting further orders from General Headquarters. 

The other corps of the army were carrying out the 
army orders of the afternoon of the 14th, which had not been 
changed as far as those corps were concerned. 

The Xth Corps was with one division on the march to 
Thiaucourt* and had the other assembled at Pont-a-Mous- 
son ; its attached cavalry was far in front towards the Metz 
— Verdun road. 

The Guard Corps was closing up towards Dieulouard, 
its advance guard advancing on Les Quatre Vents. The 
Guard Dragoon Brigade had been started towards Thiau- 
court to effect a junction with the Xth Army Corps, the 
Guard Ulan Brigade scouted in the direct western direction 
along the plateau between Moselle and Meuse. 

The IVth Army Corps was approaching Marbache. 

The lid Army Corps was approaching Han-sur-Nied. 

The fact that the battle east of Metz was not renewed 
on the 15th was known at army headquarters at Pont-a- 
Mousson during the early forenoon hours. Otherwise in- 
formation would have been received from General Headquar- 
ters in Herny, with which telegraphic communication ex- 
isted, and from the Mousson observation post. 

The reports that were received in the course of August 
15th on the other hand called the attention of army head- 
quarters more and more to the west of Metz. The first 
report came from the Xth Army Corps : 

"Corps Headquarters informs Army Headquarters that 
the following message has just been received: 

Corny, 6:00 A.M. 

'Corny is occupied by a squadron of the 3d Ulan Regi- 
ment [here followed statements concerning the bat- 
tle of the 14th] Since 11:00 P.M. we heard much noise 

of moving vehicles. An officer's patrol, which almost reached 

*One detachment of two battalions, 2 squadrons, 1 battery under 
Colonel von Lynker had been sent along the Moselle valley towards 


Campaign of 1870-71 

Gravelotte, at 2:00 A.M. encountered outposts there, and 
the officer heard the movement of troops marching in the 
direction of Verdun. 

'One patrol was heavily fired on at 4:30 A.M. north of 
Ancy by one platoon of French infantry. The 3d Ulan Regi- 
ment is just now reconnoitering by way of Augny towards 
Metz. (signed) von Willich, 1st Lieut and Adjt.' "* 

Thus, the first contact with the enemy west of Metz 
had taken place. 

Early in the morning of the 15th detachments of the 
6th Cavalry Division (3d Ulans, 6th Cuirassiers) had rid- 
den towards Montigny and le Sablon, each detachment con- 
sisting of three squadrons and two horse artillery guns. 

These detachments found the fort of St. Privat, which 
was then under construction, and the camp of the enemy in 
rear of it unoccupied. The advance guard platoon of the de- 
tachment that proceeded towards Montigny, rode through 
that village, and was fired on by hostile infantry only when 
it came to the fortifications at that place. Four French 
soldiers were taken prisoners in the outskirts and one pro- 
vision wagon was also captured.f Le Sablon also was found 
unoccupied, but inhabitants there fired on the patrols en- 
tering the place. 

From the railroad junction south of Montigny a rather 
large hostile camp was discovered between Moulins-les- 
Metz and Longeville, which could be clearly seen despite the 
morning fog. 

The detachment that had proceeded towards Montigny 
brought its guns into position at Bradin Ferme and fired 
some shells into that camp. The result was visible. The 
enemy was alarmed, in the utmost hurry and confusion, and 
had been apparently taken entirely by surprise. 

Only after quite a while did fort St. Quentin reply 
to that fire. The fog lifted, and after destroying telegraph 
and railroad, both detachments retreated. At 10:00 A.M., 

♦Adjutant of the X Army Corps. 

tFrom the baggage train of French Imperial headquarters. 


• Operations Second German Army 

when this retreat had already started, the enemy blew up 
the railroad bridge at Lon^eville. 

According to statements of inhabitants the entire 
French army was about to march off. It was said that 
troops had been entrained* and that large bodies of troops 
were marching on the Metz — Verdun road. 

The mere fact that the cavalry of the Second Army had 
been able to push through Montigny as far as the principal 
walls of the fortress, indicated the departure of the French 
army. If that army had intended to remain in the camp at 
Metz, it ought not to have completely evacuated the ter- 
rain on the south side of that fortress and ought not to have 
given up the works then under construction without a light. 

Therefore the commander-in-chief of the Second Army 
at about noon asked permission from General Headquarters 
to be still allowed to cross the Moselle on the 16th of August 
with the Hid, Xllth, and IVth Corps and to let the IXth and 
the lid Corps march to that river. 

Now, this telegram crossed a telegram sent by General 
von Moltke at 2:00 P.M., which road: 

"Courcelles, August 15th, 12:30 P.M.f 

"The French completely driven into Metz and probably 
now in full retreat on Verdun. All three corps of the right 
wing (the Illd, Xllth and IXth) are now again at the com- 
plete disposal of the Second Army; the Xllth Corps is al- 
ready on the march to Nomeny."$ 

VON Moltke. 

General Headquarters at Pont-a-Mousson started as a 
matter of course with the assumption that the enemy would 
have utilized the night for his retreat. He had at his dis- 

*This subsequently was proven to be erroneous. 

fSee No. 167, von Moltke's correspondence on page 258, w^hich 
does not correspond exactly with the message as here given. — C.H.L. 

JH.R.H., the Crown Prince of Saxony had sent an officer to 
General Headquarters early the 15th, who received from General 
von Moltke at 8:00 A.M. at Coligny the following orders: "The Xllth 
Army Corps remains stationary until 12 noon and — if the situation 
remains unchanged — can then start for Nomeny in accordance with 
orders from headquarters of the Second Army." 


Campaign of 1870-71 

posal three principal parallel roads from Metz westward.* It 
was therefore assumed that he w.ould already have left the 
fortified camp of the fortress in the early afternoon hours 
with three army corps, and- that he was now about ready 
to do the same with the remainder. The Second Army 
still had to cross the river with the main part of its troops 
and ascend the steep slope on the other side. Therefore 
haste was necessary. t 

Therefore the Illd Army Corps received orders at 2:00 
P.M. to march off again the evening of the 15th for the pur- 
pose of reconnaissance and an intended river crossing, and to 
reach on the 16th by way of Gorze, the Metz — Verdun road 
at Mars-la-Tour. A note was added that the Xth Army Corps 
with the 5th Cavalry Division in its front, would march to- 
morrow from Thiaucourt toward St. Hilaire. 

As stated in the wire from General Headquarters, the 
Xllth Corps was already on the march to Nomeny, its 
march objective. The IXth Corps had of course also re- 
ceived orders direct from General Headquarters. $ 

In the course of the next few hours numerous reports 
arrived, confirming the army commander in the correctness 
of his estimate of the situation. 

The Xth Army Corps sent in a notice of the expedition 
of a squadron belonging to the 5th Cavalry Division : "The 
squadron bivouacked at Chambley and early this morning 
started towards the Metz — Verdun road, in the direction of 
Mars-la-Tour. In Rezonville the squadron received infantry 
fire. "One platoon went to Bruville, which was found oc- 
cupied by chasseurs. That platoon observed hostile infan- 
try detachments on the Metz — Etain road, between which 

*From Metz via: 1 Ste. Marie — Briey. 

2 Amanvillers to Jarny — Conflans. 

3 Gravelotte — Mars-la-Tour. 

fAs a matter of fact the French army utilized only the two roads 
from Metz via Mars-la-Tour and via Conflans, and its departure 
was delayed materially as will be shown below. 

JAt 12 noon the corps was relieved from the duty of remaining in 
readiness and it started in the afternoon to the vicinity of Verny and 
Sillegny; strong hostile columns were observed during that march 
on the left bank moving from Metz westward. 


Operations Second German Army 

were many cavalry patrols. Forced by the chasseurs, the 
squadron fell back on Mars-la-Tour and then found that 
place occupied "* 

Headquarters of the Xth Army Corps then sent a mes- 
sage from Thiaucourt, dated 3 :30 P.M., that a staff officer 
of that headquarters had made a reconnaissance early that 
morning on the right bank of the Moselle towards Metz. This 
officer had seen no enemy on this side of the fortress. Con- 
cerning events on the left of the Moselle, the message from 
General von Rheinbaben concerning the march of the 5th 
Cavalry Division on the forenoon of the 15th gave all infor- 
mation. This notice, sent to the Xth Corps, was submitted to 
the commander-in-chief of the Second Army with the above 
report and read: 

"Arrived with five regiments and one battery at 12 
noon at Tronville; encountered hostile cavalry and superior 
artillery which at the present moment are falling back on 
Metz. The light cavalry is now going closer to Metz. 
Bredow'sf Brigade will also soon follow. I intend to remain 
in Tronville or nearer Metz. Communication with First 
Army not yet established.J Tronville, 1 :00 P.M. (signed) 
von Rheinbaben." 

*One brigade of the French Cavalry Division of Forton had 
reached and passed Mars-la-Tour in the course of the forenoon. 

tl2th Cavalry Brigade and 10th Hussar Regiment. 

{Concerning events on August 12th it has already been stated 
that headquarters of the Second Army were convinced that the 
First Army would be able to send its cavalry across the Moselle 
below Metz and thus envelop the fortress and the hostile army 
from the north. At 4:30 P.M. the afternoon of August 12th Gen- 
eral Headquarters had directed the First Army to have its cavalry 
reconnoiter towards Metz and have it cross the river below the 
city. Thereupon headquarters of the First Army issued orders to 
the 3d Cavalry Division at 9:00 P.M. August 12th for August 13th 
as follows: "The 3d Cavalry Division will go as far as Avancy, 
send detachments towards Metz and Vigny and attempt to 
send detachments across the Moselle to find out what is there." 
In pursuance thereof the 3d Cavalry Division started on 
the 13th along the Metz — Bouzonville road towards Metz. On the 
plateau of Ste. Barbe its advance guard, the 7th Ulan Regiment, 
struck the enemy; its point received fire from Vremy from hostile 
pickets. At Servigny a large French camp was seen. With three 
regiments and one horse battery the division then went into bivouac 
at Vry. The advance guard placed videttes on the line Sanry les 
Vigy to Ste. Barbe and camped at Avancy, sending one squadron 


Campaign of 1870-71 

The evening of August 15th the Guard Dragoon Brigade 
and one battery arrived at Thiaucourt ; the Brigade of Bre- 
dow was also on the 15th in march with one battery. This bri- 
gade, coming from the IVth Army Corps, reached Hannon- 
ville-au-Passage and Suzemont in the afternoon. The two 
horse batteries of the corps artillery of the Xth Army Corps 
had already been started to Thiaucourt to join the advance 
guard and were to join the cavalry also the following morn- 
ing. Thus, on August 16th, the Xth Army Corps would have 
at its disposal four cavalry brigades with five horse bat- 
teries to delay the hostile retreat.* 

to Vigy to secure against Thionville. From this squadron an of- 
ficers' patrol went as far as the open gate of Thionville before it 
was fired on, and another one — there being no permanent bridges 
available, went across the river on a ferry found at Hauconcourt to 
the left bank to reconnoiter on that bank. It did not encounter any 
enemy there. Connection west around Metz could not be gained 
considering the long distance still obtaining between the points 
of the First and Second Armies. The iiostile masses discovered on 
August 13th by the 3d Cavalry Division in its front absorbed the en- 
tire attention of that division until the battle of August 14th brought 
a different course to events. 

*Many interesting details in the movements of the cavalry 
during those days did not come to the knowledge of army head- 
quarters. As above we could count only on what was learned at 
Pont-a-Mousson from the reports received and we will here briefly re- 
count what actually happened with the 5th Cavalry Division on 
August 14th and 15th. 

According to its general instructions "to advance against the 
Metz — Verdun road and reconnoiter beyond it" the 5th Cavalry Di- 
vision marched on the 14th with the 13th Brigade to Beney, outposts 
at St. Benoit, with the 11th Brigade to Thiaucourt, while the 12th 
Brigade coming from the left wing of the army — the IV Army 
Corps — reached Pont-a-Mousson. To give some stability to the 
cavalry, the Xth Army Corps sent on the 14th, as already stated, its 
advance guard to Pont-a-Mousson. Of the 13th Brigade two squad- 
rons of the 11th Hussar Regiment rode via Pagny and Onville to 
the hills of Buxieres, from where they reported at 1:30 P.M. that 
the Metz — Verdun road was completely free of the enemy. One 
military "fourgon" remaining on that road was the only sign that 
troops had passed. The 11th Brigade sent one squadron of the 13th 
Ulans down the Moselle valley towards Ancy; there it received fire. 
Two other squadrons of that brigade, also from the 13th Uhlan Regi- 
ment, v/ere sent south towards Flirey and established communica- 
tion with the Guard Dragoon Brigade. 

As has been stated, August 15th the 5th Cavalry Division 
had at the start marched toward Fresnes-en-Woevre and as is 
known, the 19th Infantry Division marched to its support to Thiau- 
court. Now General von Rheinbaben sent the 13th Brigade — leav- 
ing one regiment in Beney, but taking along the battery of the 
brigade — to Lachaussee and one regiment of the brigade to Dom- 


Operations Second German Army 

After these reports had been received, at 7:00 P.M., 
headquarters of the Second Army received the following 
instructions for August 16th : 

"Last evening the enemy was attacked by portions of 
the First Army and the 18th Infantry Division in front of 
Metz and driven back into the fortress. 

"The hostile army is on the retreat towards the Meuse. 

"The Second Army will pursue the enemy without delay 
towards the Meuse. 

"The Illd Army Corps will cross the Moselle below Pont- 
a-Mousson, as it has started, and will, by way of Noveant 
and Gorze reach the main Metz — Verdun road tomorrow 
near Mars-la-Tour and Vionville respectively. If possible 
headquarters to be moved to Mars-la-Tour. The 6th Cavalry 
Division can be sent on ahead from Pagny via Preny and 
Thiaucourt to that road. If it is impracticable for the 
trains to cross on the bridge that is to be constructed, they 

martin. The 12th Brigade marched from Pont-a-Mousson towards 
Thiaucourt. The detachment at Lachaussee did send on the morn- 
ing- of August 15th single squadrons to Latour-en-V/oevre and 
to beyond Sponville, but these found no trace of the enemy. On 
the other hand, shots were fired on the right in the direction of Metz 
and the rest of the detachment (four squadrons and the battery) 
rode towards the sound thereof. When Xonville was reached two 
French cavalry regiments were seen approaching on the heights of 
Puxieux. The battery went into position and by a few rounds in- 
duced these regiments to face about; the four squadrons followed. 
From a hill near Puxieux could then be seen larger hostile masses 
of cavalry in the depression at Mars-la-Tour (five to six cavalry 
regiments). One of these regiments was fired on with shells by 
the battery and it then disappeared behind the buildings of Mars-la- 
Tour. But now hostile artillery, three batteries strong, returned 
the fire. 

The two squadrons of the 13th Brigade, that had been in that 
vicinity the day before, had in the meantime joined the brigade. 
They had renewed their reconnaissance attempts in the morning 
towards Rezonville but had, at that place encountered strong French 
cavalry with two batteries and had been forced to fall back on 
Vionville and Tronville — carrying along 9 captured French dra- 
goons. In conjunction with one squadron of the 11th Brigade they 
had then observed the enemy until the detachment came up from 
Lachaussee. The squadron of the 11th Brigade belonged to the regi- 
ment that had been sent to Dommartin, which latter now also was 
called up. 

In the meantime the artillery fight continued, but the com- 
mander of the 13th Brigade, who was there, broke it off and took 
the regiments assembled around him back to a fold in the terrain 


Campaign of 1870-71 

can use up to 7:00 A.M. tomorrow — but no longer — the 
stone bridge at Pont-a-Mousson and from there take the road 
to Noveant-sur-Moselle downstream. The field bridge of 
the Illd Army Corps will remain for the present available 
for the IXth Corps for the investment of Metz or other duty ; 
a sufficient guard will be left there for its security. 

"The Xth Army Corps, which today has been started 
partially, with the 5th Cavalry Division ahead, towards 
Thiaucourt, will continue the march tomorrow on the road 
towards Verdun, say to opposite St. Hillaire — Maizeray and 
will as far as possible bring up those portions of the corps 
that are still at Pont-a-Mousson and in the Moselle valley. 
Headquarters, if practicable, at St. Hillaire. The cavalry 
will reconnoiter beyond Haudiomont and Vigneulles. 

"The XHth (Royal Saxon) Army Corps will march to- 
morrow from Nomeny via Pont-a-Mousson with its advance 
guard as far as Regneville-en-Haye, and close up with its 
rear elements as far as Pont-a-Mousson, which is to be fully 
utilized for night shelter and where headquarters will take 

some distance oflP. The enemy pursued this movement only with a 
few rounds from his batteries which thereupon disappeared in the 
direction of Metz. Called up by the thunder of cannon, the 3d Regi- 
ment of the 13th Brigade came along from Beney (about at 11 A. 
M.), and the brigade — now fully assembled — rode ahead west of 
Bois la Dame to attack the enemy who had again become visible 
east of Mars-la-Tour. The division commander, who arrived on 
the scene in the meantime prohibited that attack— in the face of 
the apparent superiority of the enemy. The thunder of cannon also 
drew the rest of the 11th Brigade to the spot; soon thereafter also 
the 12th Brigade arrived, so that by 2:00 P.M. 34 squadrons (about 
4200 troopers) with their two horse batteries were assembled. 
General von Rheinbaben caused all three brigades to go into biv- 
ouac opposite the enemy; the 11th at Puxieux, the 13th at Xonville, 
the 12th at Suzemont on both sides of the main road. 

In order to seek, as directed, communication with the First 
Army to the west of Metz, one squadron of the 12th Brigade (the 
16th Ulan Regiment) was sent northward. This squadron en- 
countered a strong body of French cavalry at Jarny and one bat- 
talion of infantry; it had to retreat and had some losses during the 
retreat at Mars-la-Tour, because of an ambush prepared by Chas- 
seurs d'Afrique. The French flankers swarmed around the Prus- 
sian outposts so audaciously that several squadrons had to go out 
to chase them off. With their long range carbines the chasseurs 
fired, for instance, continually into the bivouac of the 11th Brigade, 
so that that bivouac had to be moved to the rear. One squadron 
of the 13th Brigade, which rode in the evening towards Vionville, 
observed in rear of that place camps of large bodies of troops of all 


operations Second German Army 

station. The cavalry division will be detached towards Vig- 
neulles and to the south boundary as far as Buxieres toward 
the Meuse and will secure communication on the right with 
the 5th and on the left with the Guard Cavalry Division. 

"The Xllth Army Corps can cross on the stone bridge at 
Pont-a-Mousson from and after 7 :00 A.M. or even earlier. 

"The Guard Corps will reach with its advance guard 
Rambucourt tomorrow, with the main body and headquar- 
ters (which are to take the road via Villers-en-Haye and 
Rogeville) in the vicinity of Bemecourt. The cavalry, 
sent on ahead, will secure communication on the right by 
way of Buxeriulles with the Royal Saxon Cavalry Division. 

"The IVth Army Corps will advance its advance guard 
from Marbache by way of Les Saizerais to Jaillon. The 
army corps will close up its rear elements to Marbache and 
will make its headquarters in Les Saizerais. 

"Connection with the right wing of the Third Army will 
be made towards Nancy. 

"The IXth Army Corps will march tomorrow to the 
vicinity of Sillegny, where headquarters will be, in order to 
follow the next day the Illd Army Corps, across the field 
bridge constructed by that corps, by way of Noveant-sur- 
Moselle to Gorze. 

"The lid Army Corps will with its leading elements 
reach Buchy near Logne tomorrow and, leaving a sufficient 
guard for General Headquarters in Herny, will close up suffi- 
ciently to be able to commence crossing on the next day the 
Moselle at Pont-a-Mousson. Headquarters in Buchy. 

"The cavalry divisions out in front will reconnoiter as 
the advance proceeds the roads leading to the Meuse and the 
crossings there, keeping in mind that the 6th Cavalry Divi- 
sion will reconnoiter the crossings for the Xth, Hid, IXth, 
Corps at Dieuse-sur-Meuse and Genicourt ; that the Royal 
Saxon Cavalry Division will reconnoiter for the Xllth Corps 
the Meuse crossing at Bannoncourt, and that the crossings at 
St. Mihiel, Pont-sur-Meuse and Commercy are to be recon- 
noitered for the Guard, IVth and lid Army Corps by the 
Guard Cavalry Division. All reports to be sent to these 


Campaign of 1870-71 

Headquarters by the respective corps headquarters as soon 
as practicable. 

"Second Army Headquarters remains in Pont-a-Mous- 
son tomorrow. 

"Considering the long marches which the situation de- 
mands, I leave it to the discretion of the corps to form all 
men temporarily unable to march into provisional com- 
panies, attaching sufficient officers and noncommissioned offi- 
cers, and station these as garrisons in the principal places 
along the route of march and to report these facts to head- 
quarters of the Line of Communications — which is now in 
Delme, but will be in Pont-a-Mousson from the 17th on. 

"Those headquarters will then take the necessary steps 
to relieve these garrisons and send them to join their respec- 
tive organizations. All horses unable to march will be left 
with caretakers with these garrisons. 

Prince Frederick Charles, 

General of Cavalry." 

These orders w^ere changed only in some minor points 
when Army Headquarters received orders from General 
Headquarters at 10:30 P.M. 

According to those orders two corps of the First Army 
were to take position on the 16th of August in the terrain 
between the Seille and Moselle on the line Pommerieux — 
Arry, to follow across the Moselle. One corps of that army 
had to remain in the vicinity of Courcelles as long as it was 
not absolutely certain whether more than a regular garri- 
son had remained in Metz. 

Thus, the IXth Army Corps of the Second Army had to 
be kept on the march on the 16th and had to evacuate the 
right bank of the Moselle as much as possible. It therefore 
received special orders to cross the Moselle directly in rear 
of the Hid Army Corps. 

For the subsequent operations the letter from General 
Headquarters cited the following viewpoints:* 

"Conditions under which the 1st and VHth Army Corps 
and portions of the 18th Infantry Division victoriously 

*See No. 168, von Moltke's Correspondence, page 258. 


Operations Second German Army 

fought on the evening of the 14th, precluded any pursuit. 
The fruits of the victory can be gathered only by a forcible 
offensive of the Second Army against the roads from Metz, 
as well as via Fresnes and Etain toward Verdun. It is left 
to the Second Army headquarters to conduct such an offen- 
sive with all available means at hand. Even if, through this, 
the Second Army will find itself temporarily ahead of the 
First Army, care will be exercised at these headquarters in 
arranging the further advance westward, which steps can- 
not be foreseen at present, and steps will also be taken to 
give the troops the necessary rest." 

The movements directed by Headquarters of the Sec- 
ond Army were in accordance with what was now necessary 
and no new orders were required. 


During the night of August 15th-16th extensive bivouac 
fires had been observed west of Metz and this fact was re- 
ported from different points to Pont-a-Mousson by 9 :30 

There could be no longer any doubt but what the ene- 
my was about to march off from Metz. How far he had pro- 
ceeded and where he would be met could of course be ascer- 
tained only during the course of the 16th of August from 
direct contact. 

The attention of the Xth Army Corps had been called as 
early as 8 o'clock to the great importance of the road leading 
through Etain. 

The first report bringing details of the enemy came 
from the Hid Army Corps from the vicinity south of Vion- 
ville. It, dated at 10:30 A.M., reached Army Headquar- 
ters at noon and stated: 

"Hostile camps at Vionville and Rezonville. The Illd 
Army Corps is advancing as a unit ; left wing towards Jarny, 
to eventually cross at Confians. 5th Cavalry Division at 
Mars-la-To ir, the 6th at Rezonville." 


Campaign of 1870-71 

It was added that the enemy was withdrawing north- 

The following was dictated to the Adjutant who brought 
this report, which in accordance with directions from Gen- 
eral Headquarters, lay near to the intentions of the Prince: 

"As long as the enemy retreats in front of the Illd Army 
Corps, that corps must pursue him vigorously, pushing its 
left wing forward. t Continued communication with the Xth 
Army Corps. 

"The IXth Army Corps, which will be at Mars-la-Tour 
tomorrow noon, will secure the right flank against Metz and, 
if necessary, will act in support." 

The Prince designated the objective of the entire opera- 
tion for the Hid Army Corps as being to drive the enemy in 
a northerly direction. 

In a similar manner General von Manstein was sent in- 
formation — through the officer that had been sent from the 
IXth Corps to headquarters to receive orders — that the Illd 
Army Corps was pursuing since 10 o'clock hostile masses 
of troops, which apparently were falling back towards the 

The Prince added — concerning the IXth Corps, itself: 

"It is important that the IX Corps occupy Mars-la- 
Tour as soon as possible and that it cover today the right 
flank of the Illd Corps against Metz and serve as support 
for that corps." 

About the same time as the first report arrived from 
the Hid Army Corps, Headquarters in Pont-a-Mousson was 
engaged in drafting the army orders for the 17th of August. 

These army orders — issued during a situation the im- 
portance of which to the Second Army was clear to every 
one — shows the views held at that time at Second Army 
Headquarters. It appears to be well therefore for the study 
of military history to go more into the details of these or- 

*This soon proved to be erroneous, as only the hostile advanced 
troops made a retrograde movement. 

fThese instructions were based on information in the report 
from the Hid Army Corps that the enemy was retreating northward. 


Operations Second German Army 

ders, notwithstanding the fact that they were overtaken by 
events and were executed actually only by the lid and IVth 
Army Corps. 

Since the intact bridge across the Moselle at Pont-a- 
Mousson had fallen into Prussian hands on the 13th of 
August, Headquarters of the Second Army had gained the 
view that the commander of the French Army of the Rhine 
did not have any intention to accept a battle in rear of the 
Moselle at Metz. It was believed just as improbable that the 
French had selected the plateau between the Moselle and 
the Meuse for the decisive battle. 

It would have been far better to credit the hostile gen- 
eral with the intention — the best that he could do — to bring 
the Army of the Rhine as rapidly and as intact as possible 
to behind the Meuse. Once there it would have plenty of 
roads to safety reach the west of France and effect 
a junction with the rest of the French fighting forces. This 
had to be prevented. We must not allow the Army of the 
Rhine to reach the Argonne passes ; we had to force it to 
the north and thus separate it from portions of the army 
that had retreated directly westward. 

The plans, which we thought the enemy did have, could 
be best frustrated by the Second Army if as early as possi- 
ble it secured the crossings of the Meuse and forced the 
enemy by a parallel march toward the Meuse to remain on 
the move without rest. As a matter of course steps had to be 
taken for harassing and delaying the French march columns. 
This was to be the task of the right wing which was strong 
and supplied with numerous cavalry and under one com- 
mander. It was of course supposed that the enemy had two 
days' start. The northern roads from Metz. westward had 
not been reached nor reconnoitered by the German cavalry. 
The enemy might have utilized the 14th and 15th of August 
to start the execution of his intentions. 

The dispositions taken in those days were based on 
these views, as was also the army order of August 16th, 
noon, which read : 


Campaign of 1870-71 

"Headquarters Pont-a-Mousson, 16 August, 1870, 

12:00 Noon. 

"The Second Army will continue its forward movement 
tomorrow toward the Meuse. 

"During the next few days the First Army will be in 
rear of the right wing of the Second Army. 

"The right wing of the Second Army will be governed 
in its movements by the direction of the hostile retreat, and 
so that later on the Xth Army Corps will cross the Meuse 
below Verdun. Detachments will be made against the for- 
tress of Verdun. 

"Should the Xth Corps be drawn far to the north in the 
pursuit, Clermont-en-Argonne and St. Menehould are desig- 
nated as the points on which the present right wing of the 
army will march. 

"The Illd Army Corps will march on Etain, which its 
advance guard will occupy unless conditions regarding the 
enemy require something else. The detachment left to 
guard the field bridge across the Moselle will be withdrawn 
as soon as the IXth Army Corps sends a relief, which will 
be done today. 

"The IXth Army Corps will reach Mars-la-Tour tomor- 

"If practicable the IXth Corps will replace the field 
bridge of the Hid Army Corps tomorrow by a ponton bridge 
constructed from Moselle river boats and, after that has 
been accomplished, will send the light field bridge train to 
join the Hid Corps. 

"The three corps of the right wing, enumerated in the 
preceding paragraphs (and which will report their where- 
abouts daily to these headquarters), will keep in touch with 
each other and in case of a large engagement with the 
enemy General von Voigts-Rhetz will assume command at 
first of the Hid and later also of the IXth Corps. 

"If such an engagement does not take place, as is ex- 
pected, on August 18th the Hid Corps will march in the 
direction of Dieuse-sur-Meuse, the IXth Corps in the direc- 
tion of Fresnes — Genicourt-sur-Meuse and secure the Meuse 


Operations Second German Army 

crossing there as early as possible. In case the IXth Corps 
is the first to arrive, it will secure both crossings. 

"The Xllth Army Corps will march tomorrow with its 
leading elements to Vigneulles, with the main body to St. 
Benoit-en-Woevre, where headquarters will be. The cav- 
alry will be sent to and beyond the Meuse. On the 18th the 
Xllth Corps will direct its march on Bannoncourt and secure 
the Meuse crossing there. 

"The Guard Corps will march tomorrow to St. Mihiel, 
will send a strong advance guard to the left bank of the 
Meuse to secure important crossings; its headquarters will 
be in St. Mihiel. The cavalry will proceed toward Bar-le- 

"The IVth Army Corps will move in the direction of 
Jaillon — Sancey — Boucq toward Commercy during the next 
few days, in so far as the fortress Toul may not demand a 
delay in this advance. 

"The lid Army Corps will reach Pont-a-Mousson tomor- 
row and will send its point in the direction of Limey, Flirey, 
St. Mihiel. Headquarters Pont-a-Mousson. 

"Second Army Headquarters will be in Thiaucourt from 
and after 5 P.M. today, from noon tomorrow and until fur- 
ther orders in St. Mihiel. 

"After the Second Army has reached the Meuse and 
secured the crossings there, a halt will probably be made for 
several days until the flank armies have arrived on the 
same line. 

"All corps will send liaison officers to these headquar- 
ters daily. These officers may use wagons, tying their 
horses to them, and take along infantry orderlies as guards. 

Frederick Charles, 
General of Cavalry." 

Transfer of Second Army Headquarters to Thiaucourt 
had been directed to be made the afternoon of the 16th, be- 
cause General Headquarters was to come to Pont-a-Mousson 
and there was not enough room there for both headquarters. 

H.R.H. the Prince himself decided to proceed with a por- 
tion of his staff in the afternoon to the HI Army Corps in 
the vicinity of Vionville. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

Shortly before he mounted at Pont-a-Mousson a report 
arrived which showed that conditions were changing from 
what had been up to then assumed. At 2:05 P.M. General 
von Kraatz, commanding the 20th Infantry Division, re- 
ported "that the Hid Army Corps were engaged north of 
Gorze in a heavy fight against superior forces." 

To this report was added "that the 20th Infantry Divi- 
sion is about to march via Xammes to the battlefield to sup- 
port the Illd Corps and information has been sent to the 
19th Division." There was no doubt now but that the ques- 
tion was one of an important tactical decision and it became 
clear that only from the battlefield could it be determined 
what measures the Second Army would now have to take. 

Before we continue the further narrative of events as 
they developed at army headquarters, it is necessary to re- 
turn briefly to the events of the morning concerning the de- 
tached portions of the Second Army. 

The Illd. Army Corps had crossed the Moselle early the 
evening of the 15th with the 5th Infantry Division via the 
permanent bridge at Noveant, and with the 6th Infantry 
Division via the ponton bridge at La Lobe. The corps artil- 
lery was brought up by way of Pont-a-Mousson. Only the 
6th Cavalry Division remained on the right bank of the 
Moselle in position from Frescaty to the Moselle, observing 
towards Metz. 

During the night both infantry divisions sent detach- 
ments from Noveant to Gorze and from La Lobe via Pagny 
and Arnaville to Onville respectively. 

For the 16th of August the army corps had, as stated, 
the following orders from army headquarters : "To reach 
the Metz — Verdun road via Gorze at Mars-la-Tour." 

General von Alvensleben II ordered as follows in order 
to carry out these orders : 

1. The 6th Infantry Division will march at 5 :00 A.M. 
via Onville to Mars-la-Tour and the corps artillery will fol- 
low it. 


Operations Second German Army 

2. The 6th Cavah-y Division will have crossed the 
Noveant bridge by 5 :30 A.M. and will march via Gorze to 
Vionville; the 5th Infantry Division following it.* 

This march was started early the 16th as ordered. 

The Illd Army Corps ascended in two columns through 
the deep-cut valleys of Gorze and Onville to the top of the 
plateau on the left bank of the Moselle. Though still early 
it was extremely hot and the march exceedingly difficult, 
as the corps had either been up half, or the whole night, 
and had undergone great fatigue the day before. 

On the plateau itself, in the vicinity of Mars-la-Tour — 
the march objective of the Illd Army Corps — General von 
Rheinbaben scouted vv'ith his cavalry. This cavalry, as 
stated above, had stopped hostile troops on the 15th coming 
from Metz via Gravelotte towards Mars -la-Tour and induced 
them to halt for the night at Vionville. 

How strong the hostile forces opposite the Hid Corps 
were, was not known either the evening of the 15th nor 
early on the morning of the 16th. Though French bi- 
vouac fires had been seen during the night immediately west 
of Metz, that was not indication enough to estimate closely 
the place and strength of the camping troops, and thus gain 
the desired certainty. 

It remained probable that the hostile fighting forces 
on the Metz — Mars-la-Tour road were merely a flank or a 
rear guard of the army marching off to the west; for the 
enemy no doubt had full information that the Second Army 
had already crossed the Moselle above Metz and he had 
therefore no choice but to utilize the northern roads for his 
retreat. Only those roads offered him some kind of secur- 
ity. But, as a matter of fact we still had the entire hostile 
army in our front immediately west of Metz, for the depar- 
ture of that army had been delayed by the battle of August 
14th and by the blockades in the march columns on the 
15th so much that the leading elements had not gotten to 

*The crossing of the 6th Cavalry Division was delayed on the 
16th until 6:15 A.M., and this in turn delayed the start of the 5th 
Infantry Division. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

beyond Vionville and St. Marcel respectively by the evening 
oi August 15th.* 

On August 15th Forton's French Cavalry Division 
marched along the southern road by way of Mars-la-Tour, 
ahead of its army ; it was followed by the French 2d, 6th, 
and Guard Corps. The 2d Corps was to reach Mars-la-Tour 
on the 15th, but remained at Rezonville when the Division 
of Forton halted at the sight of the cavalry under General 
von Rheinbaben appearing at Mars-la-Tour and fell back 
on Vionville. The French 6th Corps also arrived at Rezon- 
ville and both corps camped alongside the road to Vionville, 
the 6th north of it, the 2d south of it. The Guard Corps 
came as far as Gravelotte in rear of the two corps. 

Du Barail's French cavalry division scouted ahead 
along the northern road by way of Doncourt and Conflans 
and reached the vicinity of Jarny, its march objective. The 
4th Corps, which was to follow it to Doncourt, was over- 
taken by the 3d Corps however, which latter corps, accord- 
ing to orders received, marched to the line Verneville — St. 
Marcel. It left the 4th Corps in its rear. That corps re- 
mained with both the divisions of Grenier and de Cissey at 
Woippy ; Lorencez' division was still further in rear at the 
Moselle defiles. The battle of the 14th had caused this latter 
corps to be late. 

Thus it happened that on August 16th Marshal Bazaine, 
who actually had taken supreme command on August 12th 
of the hostile army at Metz, had available all five corps of 
his armyt in the confined space between Vionville, St. Mar- 
cel, Verneville and Gravelotte. 

Marshal Bazaine had issued orders on the evening of 
August 15th that the army was to be in readiness very early 
the morning of August 16th to start westward — these or- 

*Along the northern road only the Cavalry Division of du Barail 
which had been sent ahead reached the vicinity between Doncourt 
and Jarny. 

fWith exception of Lorencez' Division of the 4th, and Met- 
mann's Division of the 3d Corps. Laveaucoupet's Division of the 
French 2d Corps had remained in Metz as garrison, and the 2d Corps 
had received in its place Lapasset's Brigade of the 5th Corps which 
had retreated from Saargemiind. 


Operations Second German Army 

ders were in consonance with the assumption held at Head- 
quarters in Pont-a-Mousson. But the Marshal changed 
these orders ; the army remained in its camps. 

A portion of the plateau on which the French army 
stood on the 16th is rolling, covered by clumps of woods, 
the balance generally open and affording good views. The 
terrain slopes down to many ravines in long, irregular slopes. 
These ravines become deeper towards the south and finally 
run into the deeply cut, wooded slopes of the Gorze valley, 
hard to ascend, and which has a real mountain character. 
The Gorze valley bounds the entire portion of the plateau 
in question from Noveant on the Moselle as far as Tronville, 
4.^ [English] miles northwest. South of that valley the left 
bank of the Moselle is cut into ravines running deep into 
the country "and covered with forests — a close irregular 

If we ascend towards the north the steep slope from 
Gorze, where the ravines dividing the northern plateau join 
concentrically, the picture takes an entirely different aspect. 
Out of a wooded, romantic mountain country we step onto 
a flat, regular hilly country. In the east we see the village 
of Gravelotte high up on the plateau ; Rezonville and Vion- 
ville are partly hidden deep in depressions. None of these 
villages are surrounded by gardens or orchards, but rise as 
cold stone masses between cultivated lands. A very similar 
view is offered by the smaller village of Flavigny southeast 
of Vionville. 

After ascending the ravine at Gorze it is at first believed 
that all difficulties have been overcome. Now the ter- 
rain dominates the country northward and also the Metz — 
Mars-la-Tour road, which runs through Gravelotte, Rezon- 
ville and Vionville. But this is in part erroneous. No mat- 
ter Vv'here we advance toward that road and the villages 
along it, we must pass one of many cross ravines and climb 
up the steep slope on the other side, which, glacis like, at no 
point offer protection nor cover. North of the Metz — Mars- 
la-Tour road the terrain cannot be seen from the Roman road 
on. Clumps of woods hide it and reserves may be brought 


Campaign of 1870-71 

up here against the Metz — Mars-la-Tour road without an 
attacker coming from the south being able to see them or 
estimate their strength. 

When now at 8 :00 A.M. August 16th the cavalry points 
of the Illd Army Corps ascended the southern slope of the 
plateau, they perceived hostile outposts at Vionville and 
behind them, towards Rezonville, large camps. 

It remained doubtful if the entire French army was 
still immediately west of Metz, or if only one corps was 
camped here covering the departure of the main forces 
westward. It is certain that the entire hostile army was 
not seen, but only portions thereof. In order to hold these 
at all events. General von Alvensleben II decided to attack. 

He first caused the 6th Infantry Division to deploy be- 
hind the hills of Buxieres.* But before this- was accom- 
plished the appearance of the 5th Infantry Division at the 
upper end of the Gorze defile had to be awaited. Then he 
ordered the 6th Cavalry Division to march off to the left, 
through the ravine to the Anconville farm and the Bois 
de Gaumont and to ascend the plateau from there. But by 
orders of General von Voigts-Rhets General von Rheinba- 
ben came with his cavalry from the bivouacs at Xonville 
and reported to the Illd Army Corps for orders. As has been 
stated, Bredow's Brigade with its battery had rejoined 
that division, so that it had at its disposal its three bri- 
gades and four horse batteries ; besides early in the morn- 
ing the two horse batteries of the corps artillery of the X 
Army Corps also arrived.! 

The 6th Cavalry Division proceeded, as ordered, from 
about the point Tantelainville on the plateau in the direc- 
tion of Flavigny and on its left advanced the 5th Cavalry 
Division towards Vionville. 

The enemy was still at rest, little dreaming of the ap- 
proach of the two hostile columns of the Illd Corps and cav- 
alry. The two cavalry divisions brought their artillery to 
the front, threw some shells into the camp and the 5th 

*The corps artillery had been brought to the front. 
fUnder guard of one squadron of the 2d Guard Dragoon Regi- 


Operations Second German Army 

Division rapidly drove off Murat's French Cavalry Brigade 
which, at Vionville, covered the front of the troops 
in camp towards Rezonville.* In the confusion the French 
troops rode through the infantry of the French 2d Corps 
and in that manner alarmed the corps. The corps took arms 
at once and took position, Batailles' Division on the line 
Vionville — Flavigny, the Verge's Division on its left on the 
plateau and Lapasset's Brigade to the left of the latter 

On the right of the French 2d Corps north of the road 
the 6th Corps went into position ; in rear of it the Guard 
Corps, at Gravelotte. 

Thus, a French army of about 80,000t men with more 
than 300J guns was in readiness to take up battle, while 
30,000§ men with only 114 guns on the Prussian side ad- 
vanced from difficult mountain ravines against this num- 
erically superior force which awaited the attack in advan- 
tageous defensive positions. 

But the inequality of numbers could not be perceived 
at once ; it made itself felt in its entire importance only dur- 
ing the course of the battle. 

In the meantime the action had commenced, for the 
enemy prevented the 5th Infantry Division from deploying 
from the valley of Gorze. 

It will be well here to take a short view of the situation 
of the other corps of the Army. 

Of the Xth Army Corps, the 5th Cavalry Division 
under Rheinbaben had passed the night at Xonville, the 

*As a matter of fact artillery here executed a surprise attack 
against cavalry. This happened at about 9:45 A.M. 

fMetz, Campagne et negociations par un officier superieur de 
I'armee du Rhin, page 68. 

JThe French 2d Corps 12 batteries — 72 guns. 

The French 6th Corps 9 batteries — 54 guns. 

The French Guard Corps 12 batteries — 72 guns. 

Forton's Cavalry Division ' 2 batteries — 12 guns. 

The reserve artillery 

camping between Rezonville 

and Gravelotte 16 batteries — 96 guns. 

306 guns. 
§The Hid Army Corps had only 23 battalions there. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

19th Infantry Division with the Guard Dragoon Brigade at 
Thiaucourt and in rear of that place — one detachment 
(Lyncker) was in the Moselle valley at Noveant; the 20th 
Infantry Division with the foot batteries of the corps ar- 
tillery in and near Pont-a-Mousson. 

On the 16th the Xth Army Corps had had St. Hillaire 
as its objective. It issued the following orders for that 

1. The 5th Cavalry Division will advance reconnoiter- 
ing towards the enemy at Rezonville (this had been done, as 
stated above) ; 

2. 6 battalions, 4 squadrons, 2 batteries of the 19th 
Infantry Division will march to Chambley and there, under 
orders of Colonel Lehmann, will form the support for the 
5th Cavalry Division ;* 

3. The rest of the 19th Infantry Division and the 
Guard Dragoon Brigade marched to St. Hilaire under com- 
mand of Lieut.-General von Schwartzkoppen. 

4. The 20th Infantry Division and the corps artillery 
followed to north of Thiaucourt. 

But from the dispositions made of the Xth Army Corps 
it is seen that in the course of the 16th all portions thereof 
could reach the vicinity of Vionville, some of them of course 
only after a march of some twenty miles. 

Undoubtedly the Xth Army Corps considered the possi- 
bility of more serious engagements in the vicinity of Mars- 
la-Tour and that the different columns would have to ex- 
pect to have to deploy to the right of that point. 

The remaining corps of the Second Army were engaged 
in executing the army orders of the afternoon of August 
15th. Therefore of these corps only the leading elements 
of the IXth Army Corps could reach the vicinity of Vion- 

*For this duty were selected: the 37th Infantry Brigade (Leh- 
mann), the 9th Hannoverian Dragoon Regiment (1st squadron), 2 
batteries of the 19th Infantry Division. From these had been sent out 
during the night: (1) Lehmann's detachment 4 battalions, 2 squad- 
rons, 1 battery to and around Thiaucourt; (2) Lyncker's detachment 
2 battalions. 2 squadrons, 1 battery at Noveant to the Moselle valley. 
Both detachments were to concentrate at Chambley early on August 


Operations Second German Army 

Let us now turn back to that point. 

The battle in which the Hid Army Corps was engaged 
became very serious within a very short time. The numeri- 
cal superiority of the enemy soon drew the entire forces of 
the corps into action. 

At 9 :30 o'clock General von Stiilpnagel (commander of 
the 5th Infantry Division) had received a report in Gorze 
that the enemy was on the plateau of Vionville. He im- 
mediately directed his advance guard (9th Infantry Brigade 
under General von Boring) to take possession of the pro- 
jecting ridge at the Bois de Vionville, which dominated the 
ascent from the ravine of Gorze. 

The advance guard succeeded in quickly gaining a firm 
foothold in the Bois de Vionville with those troops which 
had passed the night in Gorze. 

However, the enemy, alarmed by the Prussian cavalry, 
advanced different columns to Vionville, Flavigny and 
against the exit of the Gorze ravine, and disputed the pos- 
session of the Bois de Vionville and of the heights west 
thereof. An engagement also ensued in the Bois de St. 

In the meantime the right wing of the Division held its 
own in the wooded terrain it had taken, and this wing be- 
came the supporting point for the deployment of the divi- 
sion. Ba'ttalions coming one after the other out of the Gorze 
ravine prolonged the front to the left, these battalions 
soon reaching to beyond Anconville farm. The batteries 
also succeeded in gaining a firm foothold on top of the pla- 

These engagements were from the very start very hot 
and bloody, but by 1:00 P.M. the hill had been completely 
taken. The 5th Infantry was by now on the plateau and had 
driven the enemy across the first deep depression towards 
the hill of Rezonville. 

At 10:15 o'clock General von Buddenbrock* had re- 
ceived orders through General von Alvensleben II to also 

* Commander of the 6th Infantry Division. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

advance to the attack. The general idea of operations in 
those days — "to push the enemy away from his route of 
retreat on Verdun" — ^was firmly adhered to. In accordance 
therewith the 6th Infantry Division executed a turn to the 
right in its advance, and marched on Flavigny, Vionville 
and the woods situated northwest of Vionville (Tronville 

In the execution of this movement it came square 
across the Metz — Verdun road in front of the enemy. The 
attack succeeded. Vionville and Flavigny were taken. In 
the fights around the latter village portions of the left wing 
of the 5th Infantry Division participated. f But in the Tron- 
ville woods the extreme left wing of the Division completed 
its right turn, emerged from the northeastern edge of the 
woods, passed the ravine running parallel with the edge of 
the woods, and held its own on the other edge opposite the 
masses of the French 6th Corps. 

Strong artillery prepared and supported this attack. 
West of Vionville 42 guns went into action ;J south of Vion- 
ville on the plateau from about behind the left wing of the 
5th Infantry Division, and on a line with the batteries of that 
division§ were 48 guns from about 10 :45 A.M. to about 1 :00 
P.M. The cavalry also participated as early as 1:00 P.M. in 
the fighting around Vionville and Flavigny, as the enemy 
there attempted to relieve his hard pressed troops by cav- 

*The 11th Infantry Brigade (von Rothmaler) advanced against 
the position at Flavigny — Vionville, the 12th Infantry Brigade (von 
Bismarck) against Vionville and the Tronville woods. 

fit is said that Flavigny was twice occupied by the French and 
twice captured from them, the first time by the 5th Infantry Division, 
which abandoned it again in its advance, and the second time by 
the 6th Division, which captured it again. The details concerning 
this interesting phase of the action will have to be left to the spe- 
cial reports of the Battle of Vionville, which will be issued soon, 
and we can therefore pass them over here. 

|4 batteries of the 5th Cavalry Division, 3 batteries of the 6th 
Infantry Division. 

§The corps artillery of the Illd Corps with its 6 batteries, 1 
battery of the 6th Infantry Division, 1 battery of the 6th Cavalry 


Operations Second German Army 

airy charges.* By 1 :30 P.M. these actions came to an 

The task of the Illd Army Corps had been solved; it 
had deprived the enemy of his direct route of retreat on 
Verdun, had battled for and gained a position on the pla- 
teau and extended that position square across the Metz — 
Mars-la-Tour road. 

From now on the main point was to maintain the advan- 
tages gained. And thus commenced the defensive portion 
of the battle. 

For the execution of the defense there were in readi- 

1. The main body of the 5th Infantry Division in the 
Bois de St. Arnould, the Bois de Vionville and on the heights 
west of this wood. 

2. On the hill in front of the Gorze — Vionville road 
were 78 guns in one long artillery line.t 

3. The 6th Infantry Division in the vicinity of Fla- 
vigny — Vionville and in front of the eastern edge of the 
Tronville woods as far as the Roman road (in addition at 
Flavigny were some portions of the 6th Infantry Division) 
supported by the 42 guns that had gone into position in the 
center west of Vionville. $ 

* These cavalry fights were started by a charge of the hostile 
3d Lancers and Guard Cuirassiers against Prussian infantry de- 
tachments emerging from Flavigny. The 17th Brunswick Hus- 
sars and the 11th Hussars of Redern's Brigade of the 5th Cav- 
alry Division answered by a counter-attack; one dragoon squadron 
participated. The hostile cavalry was defeated and pursued towards 
Rezonville. There the Hussars perceived a French battery in front 
of Rezonville and south of the road, charged that battery, and dis- 
persed Bazaine's staff, who had brought the battery up in person. 
But the Marshal's personal escort came up from Rezonville, disen- 
gaged the French commander-in-chief and the battery, which the 
hussars just then endeavored to bring to the rear. After these 
events the entire 6th Cavalry Division and some squadrons of the 
12th and 9th Regiments started to attack; portions actually did 
attack, but encountered intact hostile infantry that had by then come 

t4 batteries of the 5th Infantry Division, 6 batteries of the 
corps artillery of the Hid Corps, 1 battery of the 6th Infantry Division, 
and 1 battery of the 6th Cavalry Division, and 1 battery of Lyncker's 
detachment which had also come up. 

J4 horse batteries which were at the disposal of General von 
Rheinbaben and 3 batteries of the 6th Infantry Division. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

All these troops had already been engaged and some of 
them had suffered severe losses.* 

There were available in reserve: two cavalry divisions, 
the 6th in rear of Flavigny, the 5th with its three brigades 
divided on the left wing. 

Redern's Brigade was in rear of Flavigny, the Bri- 
gades of Bredow and Barby between Vionville and Mars-la- 
Tour. Barby's Brigade at the same time covered the ex- 
treme left through detachments. 

But by then portions of the Xth Army Corps were ap- 
proaching the battlefield or had already become engaged 

During the afternoon hours the detachment of Lyncker 
of the Xth Army Corps had reached Gorze coming from 
Noveant, reported for orders to the 5th Infantry Division, 
prolonged with its battery the long artillery line of the 
right wing of that division at the Bois de Vionville and 
participated in the subsequent engagements around the 
wooded terrain on the right wing. 

The detachment of Lehmann had reached Chambley and 
had received orders from General von Alvensleben II to re- 
inforce the Prussian left wing. 

General von Voigts-Rhetz, who had wanted to reach 
St. Hilaire with his headquarters on the I6th, marched 
that morning to Xonville where he received the reports of 
the 5th Cavalry Division. The thunder of cannon induced 
him to send orders to all portions of his command to march 
to the battlefield. 

But there the counter-attack was not delayed. For 
that purpose the enemy brought up the mass of his Guard 
Corps to the front of the fighting troops and directed his 
3d Corps toward the right of the battle line. The 4th 
Corps followed. The French army threatened to employ its 
masses and to bring about a decision by its greatly super- 
ior numbers. 

*One intact battalion (the 2d of the 20th Infantry Regiment) 
was still disposable with the 6th Infantry Division. 


Operations Second German Army 

Numerous artillery prepared this offensive.* By 1:45 
P.M. this offensive commenced carried out by the full force 
of the French Guardf and the 6th Corps.| This general 
attack of the enemy was however defeated. § 

However, in spite of the successful resistance the situa- 
tion became very grave. On the left wing, which vainly en- 
deavored to free itself by a counter-attack, the French super- 
iority over the Prussian left made itself felt. 

It is true that at this time the battalions of the Leh- 
mann detachment arrived in rear of the Tronville woods, 
but it appeared that participation in the battle was so neces- 
sary that only cavalry could do it. Therefore, by orders of 
General von Alvensleben II Bredow's Brigade of the 
5th Cavalry Division made a charge. This charge 
was directed against the hostile infantry in front of 
Rezonville and the batteries on the Roman road. It pierced 
the hostile infantry and artillery lines, and ended deep in 
the French center and brought about the desired pause in 
the battle, which lasted longer than one hour. The hostile 
batteries kept almost completely silent and the infantry 
fight proceeded very slowly. The battalions of the Lehmann 
detachment reached in the meantime the edge of the Tron- 
ville woods facing the enemy'; and these woods remained in 
Prussian hands up to 3:30 P.M. Only then did the fight 
take another turn; the enemy, reaching farther around** 
pushed back the decimated battalions, by then greatly fatig- 
ued and which had lost the larger portion of their officers. 

*About 224 French against 114 Prussian guns. 

t6 battalions Guard Grenadiers under General Picard, com- 
manding the Guard Grenadier Division. The Guard Voltigeurs un- 
der General Deligny remained in reserve in rear at Rezonville. 

JLafont's Division and one brigade of the Division of Levassor- 

§In the 6th Infantry Division, the leading elements of Leh- 
mann's detachment of the Xth Army Corps participated at the cis- 
tern of Flavigny. 

]The 7th Cuirassiers and 16th Uhlans charged; each regiment 
detached a squadron to the left flank, so that 6 squadrons partici- 
pated in the charge. 

IJThe east, northeast, and north edges. 

**The French 3d Corps, Leboeuf. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

fighting in and near the Tronville woods. But that French 
offensive was soon stopped by the Prussian batteries 
in position west of Vionville. At the same time the leading 
elements of the 20th Infantry Division arrived at Tronville. 
There was now additional support available. 

Here the battle came momentarily to a pause. 

In Stiilpnagel's Division the fire fight, carried on at 
longer range, continued. 

In the meantime Prince Frederick Charles and his staff 
had reached the battlefield. 

During his ride from Pont-a-Mousson to the battlefield 
the Prince encountered a battery of the 16th Infantry Divi- 
sion in Noveant. Infantry columns were seen marching 
along the right of the Moselle valley, and these were be- 
lieved to be columns of the IXth Army Corps hastening 
up. When the Gorze valley was entered all indications of 
a hot, bloody struggle were seen. Lines of French pris- 
oners came down the plateau. Trains under guard were 
along the roads ; everywhere hospitals were seen. Wounded 
— in masses — such as the commander-in-chief never had 
seen before — greeted him with endless hurrahs. Afoot and 
on wagons in a continuous stream these wounded gave the 
best proof that an enormous crisis was impending. But 
they also gave a clear picture of the morale of the troops 
and the confidence in victory which took possession of them 
on the appearance of their commanding general. 

The thunder of cannon, only weakly heard in the Mo- 
selle valley, now became louder and louder. On the right, 
over the woods, French shells were seen exploding. 

At St. Catherine on the right bank of the Gorze brook 
was the cavalry of the 16th Infantry Division,* whose com- 
mander reported to H.R.H. that the leading elements of the 
infantry of the division would arrive in about one hour, 
that is, between 4:00 and 5:00 P.M. Though late, these 
supports could still effectively participate and would be 
very welcome to the fighting troops. 

''One squadron of the 9th Rhenish Hussar Regiment. 

Operations Second German Army 

The little town of Gorze was in dead stillness — the main 
street was empty. It appeared that the wounded had all 
been sheltered in the houses. 

Arrived on the plateau, H.R.H. the Prince proceeded 
first to the northwest corner of the Bois de Vionville and 
met the 1st Battalion of the Body Grenadier Regiment 
there. He had covered the 4 [English] miles from Pont- 
a-Mousson to that point, from which a good view could be 
had of the battlefield, in the short time of 55 minutes. 

From there a clear picture was had of the situation on 
the eastern portion of the battlefield. 

Over the treetops of the lowlying corner of the forest 
to the front could be seen the hills, the village and the post 
ofllice building of Gravelotte, and even the Gravelotte — Ver- 
neville road as far as the hill of the Bois de la Juree. Re- 
zonville and its surrounding hills, as well as the terrain to 
the rear as far as the Roman road, could also be seen. 

A view of this battlefield showed how serious the battle 
was and that still great demands would have to be made 
on the fighting troops. At the point occupied by the Prince 
very soon arrived the commander of the 5th Infantry Di- 
vision, Lieutenant-General von Stiilpnagel, who oriented 
the commander-in-chief on the course of the battle so far. 
At that moment the infantry fighting seemed to have slowed 
up, and only the heavy batteries were firing. From where 
the Prince stood it could be plainly seen that the enemy was 
far superior in numbers to the available Prussian troops. 
On the French side we could still see intact troops ; on our 
side were none. 

The long French artillery line was in action along the 
Roman road. However the fusilade that could be heard 
in the Tronville woods proved that this artillery did not 
form the French right wing, but that that wing reached 
still far beyond. It was seen from the clouds of powder 
smoke that enveloped Rezonville and the west and south 
that the enemy was also deploying strong forces there. 
His fighting line ran east from there as far as the Bois des 
Ognons. Reserves were halted in rear between Gravelotte 


Campaign of 1870-71 

and Rezonville, and also in Gravelotte itself. The main 
highroad and the Verneville — Gravelotte road* were cov- 
ered with marching troops. 

The French positions still had sufficient depth for stub- 
born fighting. On the other hand, the Prussian troops 
were fighting in a single thin battle line. On our side there 
were no more reserves, the losses were very great, many bat- 
talions had no officers, the guns had insufficient comple- 
ments and teams. After a hot fight lasting more than six 
hours the fatigue of the troops made itself felt. But at 
that very moment an offensive by Prussian infantry was 
starting against Rezonville. Of course success was not at- 
tained in capturing that village.! 

Before we recount the activity of army headquarters 
during the further course of the battle, we will call to 
mind that this account is strictly from the standpoint of 
army headquarters. Strictly speaking, in the narrative 
here we should mention only that which army headquarters 
saw, learned of and performed on the battlefield. But for the 
purpose of giving a complete picture, a short synopsis of 
what happened on the battlefield prior to the arrival of 
Prince Frederick Charles has been given above. The scenes 
of the last hours of the battle are of course more vivid in 

*At this time the French position was about as follows: 

1. The French 4th Corps on the right approaching by way 
way of Bruville in the direction of Mars-la-Tour ; 

2. Two divisions of the French 3d Corps in ano at the 
Tronville woods; 

3. The French 6th Corps and the Guard Grenadiers west 
and south of Rezonville; 

4. On the left wing the Brigade of Lapasset, the Guard Vol- 
tigeurs and one division of the 3d Corps. In rear, in reserve, 
two divisions of the 2d Corps, reassembled, at Gravelotte for 
security against the exits from Ars-sur-Moselle. 

fOf the 20th Infantry Division, the leading elements of which 
arrived at Tronville at 3:30 P.M., two battalions of the 56th In- 
fantry Regiment, one battalion of the 79th Infantry Regiment and 
two batteries, which were joined by two batteries of the corps ar- 
tillery had been detached, on the march to Tronville, to join the 5th 
Infantry Division and the arrival of these fresh troops on the bat- 
tlefield of the Division, which happened at about 4:00 P.M., started 
this offensive. One battery accompanied the battalions advancing 
on Rezonville. The advance became general without orders there- 
for having been issued by higher authority, and even in the forest 
terrain on the right wing the Prussian infantry renewed the offen- 


Operations Second German Army 

this narrative in relation to the first hours of the battle. 
Therefore the former should not be compared with the lat- 
ter as to their value and importance of this narrative. For 
such a comparison the detailed reports of the first part 
of the battle should also be consulted. 

The offensive of the Prussian left against the hostile 
right entirely corresponded tactically to the thought on 
which the operations of the last few days were based, as 
has been stated before. 

On the Prussian right reinforcements could only ar- 
rive in driblets from the Gorze ravine while large masses 
could arrive complete on the left, where the Xth Army 
Corps became effectively engaged. There lay the field for 
the Prussian offensive. Prince Frederick Charles adhered 
to this view, as it appeared more dangerous to leave to the 
plainly visible superior hostile force the time and oppor- 
tunity for using their available fighting forces for a crush- 
ing attack, than to decisively oppose them with inferior 

Of course the real amount of the great preponderance 
of the enemy could not be perceived at that moment. 

The arrival of the 20th Infantry Division had been re- 
ported to the Prince. He explained his views to General 
von Stiilpnagel and also to General von Barnekow* who 
had just arrived, and added to what he said to General von 
Stiilpnagel that the 16th and 25th Infantry Divisions were 
approaching and this general then promised that he would 
hold his positions under any and all circumstances. 

Thereupon H.R.H. the Prince proceeded to the hill south 
of Flavigny. From that hill a portion of the battlefield 
toward the left could be seen, Flavigny in the foreground, 
lying low, in its rear the rolling terrain ascending toward 
the Roman road and the clumps of woods on that road, as 
well as Vionville and the Tronville woods. On the left Tron- 
ville was seen. The village of Mars-la-Tour on the other 
hand was hidden by the Tronville hills. 

*Commander of the 16th Infantry Division. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

The infantry fire was still heard raging in the Tron- 
ville woods. West of Vionville and in front of Tronville 
Prussian batteries* were in action against the hostile artil- 
lery positions along the Roman road. The reserve of the 
6th Cavalry Division to in rear of the Vionville — Flavigny 
position, to the right front thereof were a few battalions 
of the 6th Infantry Division that had reestablished order 
after a hot fight. t 

It was now about 5 :00 P.M. and time to commence the 
counter-attacks if these were still to be brought to a success- 
ful conclusion. Therefore Prince Frederick Charles sent 
orders to the 20th Infantry Division at Tronville "to ad- 
vance with all available troops, drums beating, against the 
hostile right." 

These orders reached the division commander, General 
von Kraatz, shortly after 5:00 P.M. on the road to Mars-la- 
Tour, 6 to 800 paces west of Vionville. At that time the 
general had only a total of eight battalions. $ Of these sev- 
eral battalions were engaged in the Tronville woods, which, 
as stated, had to be evacuated about 3 :30 P.M. and which 
could not be permitted to fall into the enemy's possession 
as the left flank and rear of the Prussian battle line would 
be seriously endangered. 

The general caused the commander-in-chief to be in- 
formed of this situation and promised to start the offensive 
as soon as he would have sufficient forces assembled at one 

In the meantime the battle again became hotter on the 
right wing. 

The heavy batteries in the center fired at shorter inter- 
vals. This indicated the arrival of the leading elements of 

*2 batteries of the 20th Infantry Division, 2 batteries of the 
corps artillery of the Xth Army Corps, hastening ahead of the 20th 
Infantry Division, had gone into position there. 

t64th Infantry Regiment. 

JOf the 13 battalions of the division three battalions were in 
action on the battlefield of the 5th Infantry Division, one battalion 
had remained in Pont-a-Mousson, one battalion was still on the 
march via Thiaucourt. 


Operations Second German Army 

the IXth and Vlllth Army Corps.* It now appeared advan- 
tageous under all conditions to combine the offensive at- 
tacks against the enemy's right wing and flank with those 
against his left wing. 

That portion of the 19th Infantry Division, approach- 
ing from St. Hilaire, could be expected to arrive on the left 
of the 20th Infantry Division. Definite information how 
near these were now was at hand, but towards 5 o'clock 
rifle fire had commenced also in the vicinity of Mars-la- 
Tour and rising smoke clouds indicated that the village was 
in flames. Any battle there could be fought only by the 
19th Division. 

Therefore the commander-in-chief sent orders there 
and also to the commanding general of the Xth Army Corps 
for the intended offensive. 

In the meantime events took a rapid course. 

*By 4:00 P.M., of the Vlllth Army Corps (16th Infantry Divi- 
sion) there had arrived at Gorze the 32d Infantry Brigade (Colonel 
Rex), 72d and 40th Regiments, as well as the 11th Grenadier Regi- 
ment of the IXth Army Corps (18th Infantry Division) which here 
turned through the Bois de St. Arnould in the direction of Rezonville 
against the French Brigade of Lapasset, which had as its first reserve 
the od Guard Grenadier Regiment. Farther in rear, on the hostile 
side, stood one brigade of the French 6th Corps. The Bois des 
Ognons was held by French Guard Chasseurs. In addition. Marshal 
Bazaine had between Gravelotte and Rezonville the Guard Zouaves, 
the Division of Montaudon of the 3d Corps and the Divisions of Ba- 
taille and Verge of the 2d Corps. The slopes from the forest ter- 
rain down was well covered with guns and machine guns. 

Three batteries of the 16th Infantry Division hastened ahead 
of Rex's Brigade of the Vlllth Army Corps and reinforced the long 
artillery line between the Bois de Vionville and Flavigny; in this 
line were then the following batteries: 

4 batteries of the 5th Infantry Division. 

1 battery of Lyncker's detachment. 

6 batteries of the corps artillery of the Illd Army Corps. 

1 battery of the 6th Infantry Division. 

1 battery of the 6th Cavalry Division. 

2 batteries of the 20th Infantry Division. 

2 batteries of the corps artillery of the Xth Army Corps. 

3 batteries of the 16th Infantry Division. 

20 batteries with 120 guns. 

In addition single batteries of the artillery in position west of 
Vionville were in action here from time to time, changing their po- 
sition as required. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

For immediately a very heavy fire, artillery and ma- 
chine gun fire, was heard in the vicinity of Mars-la-Tour. It 
was clear that a hot fight had started there. 

The Brigade of Wedell and the Guard Dragoon Brigade 
had deployed, under command of General von Schwartz- 
koppen (commanding the 19th Infantry Division) towards 
4:00 P.M. at Suzemont and without delay whatever 
started a combined ofi'ensive to beyond Mars-la-Tour. The 
attack was directed against the hills between the Tronville 
wood and Grey ere farm.* It was executed with great 
spirit in the diflftcult terrain, passed under a murderous 
fire the two ravines north of Mars-la-Tour leading from the 
Tronville woods to the ravine of the Jarny brook, and as- 
cended the steep slope of the Greyere hill.t Hostile batter- 
ies had been seen on this hill and these batteries were taken 
as the objective of the attack. However, this attack was exe- 
cuted about the time that the entire division of CisseyJ of 

*Wedeirs Brigade had five battalions present (3 battalions of the 
16th and 2 battalions of the 57th Infantry Regiments), 2 pioneer 
companies and 2 batteries; one battalion had remained in St. Hillaire. 
The five battalions and two companies w^ere deployed in one line 
alongside each other and led forward simultaneously, on the right 
the 57th, on the left the 16th Regiment, on the extreme right wing 
the pioneer companies. 

Of the Guard Dragoon Brigade the 1st Dragoon Regiment ar- 
rived in a body; of the 2d Dragoon Regiment one squadron had 
started for the battlefield that morning from Thiaucourt with the 
two horse batteries of the Xth Corps that had been sent to join the 
5th Cavalry Division, one squadron was with the commanding gen- 
eral, one with the 1st Guard Dragoon Regiment and the battery, 
and one was with Wedell's Brigade. 

fWhen the 16th Infantry Regiment arrived at the second ra- 
vine it found itself unexpectedly at the edge of a difficult ravine, but 
nevertheless the men slid down the steep slope thereof and passd the 
ravine. This was performed within effective range of hostile massed 

JThis division prolonged the right wing from the forest terrain 
of Tronville to Greyere farm. It received, in a good position and 
supported by strong artillery Wedell's Brigade. The attack of this 
brigade went to pieces in spite of the bravery of the troops. The bat- 
talions, decimated by the hostile fire, had to fall back. There was 
no reserve that could have received them and there was no stability 
for renewed resistance. The 16th Regiment alone lost its commander, 
49 officers and 1863 men out of a total of 62 officers and 2721 men. 
Thus the regiment lost more than 66 per cent of its strength with 
which it had arrived an hour and a half before at Mars-la-Tour. The 
two battalions of the 57th Regiment lost 15 officers and 768 men out 


Operations Second Geiman Army 

the French 4th Corps deployed alongside Grenier's Division 
and went to pieces. 

The masses of the enemy now commenced to move and 
advance. The moment was critical. Through the initia- 
tive of Cissey's division the other hostile divisions which 
were available opposite the Tronville woods and in rear 
(Grenier's division of the 4th, and Aymard's and Castag- 
ny's divisions* of the French 3d Corps) could be drawn into 
the movement and thus a general offensive by the French 
right wing could be started against which we could not op- 
pose a single fresh battalion at Mars-la-Tour. Though this 
fact could not be seen at that time and place in the midst 
of the action, still the advance of the hostile infantry led 
to the knowledge that the danger was great and that we 
would have to stop the enemy's intention of undertaking 
an offensive. The necessity for rapid action along this line 
was clear. 

For that purpose there was only the 1st Guard Dragoon 
Regiment available at Mars-la-Tour. This regiment now 
charged the French infantry, brought them to a stand and 
caused them to crowd around their eagles so that they 
offered an excellent target to the Prussian batteries in 
front of Tronville which had kept their position unshaken, 
and the fire from which batteries compelled the French in- 
fantry to desist from advancing further. 

The Guard Dragoons suffered extraordinary losses, but 
the result of the charge was of the utmost importance. The 
enemy was driven back onto the defensive and thus a crisis 
was overcome which might have been fatal. The enemy 
again took position on the hills at Greyere and remained 
there to the end of the battle. t 

The retrogade movement of the left wing had been seen 
from the place where the commander-in-chief and his staff 

of a total of 33 officers and 1825 men. Of these losses only about 
350 men were captured unwounded by the French. The 4th French 
Corps that had fought at Greyere farm and which had deployed 26 
battalions against oh battalions, lost 200 officers and 2350 men. 

*At that time commanded by General Nayral. 

fTwo squadrons of the 4th Cuirassier Regiment also partici- 
pated in these actions. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

stood. The officers sent to the separate detachments brought 
back information of the events that had just taken place 
and it became clear that the intended attack against the 
enemy's right wing and flank had turned into a most diffi- 
cult frontal attack, as the enemy took immediate advantage 
of his numerical superiority in numbers to prolong his front 

By this time the battle line had extended from the Bois 
des Ognons to the Jarny brook, a distance of about 7 [Eng- 
lish] miles and along this long line now fought on the Prus- 
sian side hardly more than 35 to 40,000 men. 

For the further envelopment of the hostile right wing 
by infantry there were not sufficient forces available. Only 
the 5th Cavalry Division could be used therefor. 

Accordingly, the views concerning the battle changed. 
The battle had to be carried on by separate offensive at- 
tacks against all portions of the French front and the meas- 
ures of the commander-in-chief were now directed with 
that end in view. 

Wedell's Brigade had been reassembled on the Mars- 
la-Tour — Buzieres road, the 20th Infantry Division, sup- 
ported by the artillery of the Xth Corps, occupied the vil- 
lage of Tronville in strong force. Repeated reports came 
from there to the commander-in-chief that the place would 
be held under any and all conditions. 

On the Prussian right the firing line was carried for- 
ward decisively in spite of the hostile partial counter-at- 
tacks which were noticed through rolling rifle fire lasting 
for minutes at a time. On that wing arriving reinforce- 
ments made themselves felt.* 

*The 40th, 11th and 72d Regiments. The regiments commenced 
a series of successful counter-attacks from the edge of the Bois de 
St. Arnould against the heights of Rezonville and those between 
Rezonville and Gravelotte. Though in these counter-attacks the edge 
of the plateau rising from the woods could not be permanently held, 
these intrepid attacks held the hostile forces on that portion of the 
battlefield. These offensive attacks undoubtedly increased the fears 
which Marshal Bazaine had held for his left from the beginning of 
the action and prevented him from freely using his fighting forces. 
With due regard to the supposed danger he held strong forces back 
in rear of his left; namely two divisions of the 2d Corps, the Division 
of Montaudon of the 3d Corps and material portions of the Guard. 


Operations Second German Army 

If it would now be possible to gain terrain on other por- 
tions of the battlefield, the enemy might be induced to start 
a general retreat. 

The woods of Tronville were held even after the offen- 
sive of Wedell's Brigade had gone to pieces, and they thus 
remained a supporting point for a repetition of attacks on 
the left wing. The. conviction that no offensive movements 
could be made by the Prussian infantry on this flank had 
not yet arisen. 

Up to then army headquarters believed it would have 
to abandon all intentions of enveloping the enemy. 

Almost complete silence followed the hot fighting at 
Greyere farm. It was seen from the hill near Flavigny 
that the enemy made no effort to take advantage of his suc- 
cess in spite of the momentary advantages he had gained. 
Neither hostile batteries, nor skirmishers, nor cavalry were 
seen advancing. It appeared as if the enemy, shaken by the 
bloody fighting, fell back on his part, and that it probably 
would be a question now of occupying the portion of the 
battlefield he had left, in order to secure to ourselves all 
the advantages of victory. The Prince had sent requests for 
a renewed advance to those portions of the Xth Army 
Corps around Tronville, and he added thereto that the battle 
went well on the right wing. He also ordered the battal- 
ions of the 6th Infantry Division that were not at the mo- 
ment engaged and which were in a fold of the terrain south- 
west of Flavigny to march to the battlefield on the left 
flank, leaving Tronville on the left, and to occupy the battle- 
field as far as possible. Those battalions started this move- 
ment at once. 

The day now declined. The last decisive moments ar- 
rived; whatever was intended to be done would have to 
be done now. It is clear that there were insufficient forces 
for a far reaching offensive and pursuit if the enemy were 

After the long and bloody battle fatigue had become 
general. Physical strength was at the lowest ebb on both 
sides. Under these conditions however the final attack gains 


Campaign of 1870-71 

in importance, even if only executed by exhausted troops. It 
has frequently been the decisive factor which of the com- 
manders-in-chief immediately after a battle possessed 
enough moral force to attack the enemy at the final close 
of the battle by utilizing the very last man and animal. 

However, the thought that the enemy would be imbued 
with the same conviction and could justas well do the same 
as was intended on the Prussian side, had to be considered. 
And the enemy's situation was far more favorable, be- 
cause as we well knew, he still possessed the means of obtain- 
ing not only moral but material successes. Repeated par- 
tial offensive shock by the French along the entire battle 
front proved that the enemy, though greatly shaken, still 
had fresh troops at his command. We could not expect to 
find him inactive at the last moment of the battle and in 
that there was positive danger, which we had to consider 
and overcome. It was absolutely necessary to get ahead of 
the enemy. 

Therefore Prince Frederick Charles took his measures 
to have the last shock in the battle of this day start from 
the Prussian side. 

He now sent the battalions of the 6th Infantry Divis- 
ion that had assembled at Vionville, into the ditches of the 
road leading to Rezonville against the French batteries on 
the Roman road. The fire of these batteries, which up to 
then had precluded an advance, soon ceased. Thereafter 
the long artillery line in the center received orders to ad- 
vance, commencing with its left in position at Flavigny. 
Of course these batteries could not move very rapidly for 
lack of teams. They left positions, where in addition they 
had the exact range. The small amount of ammunition 
on hand and the approach of darkness however offset this 
bad feature. The main thing, for the reasons above dis- 
cussed was that the batteries did advance. Moral impres- 
sion was of far greater value now than increased material 

*While this movement was being executed, a new hostile counter 
offensive had to be defeated at about 7:00 P.M. 


operations Second German Army 

The fire of the long artillery line once more increased in 
volume, especially as fresh batteries of the IXth Army 
Corps arrived at the right wing.* 

The Prince now decided to again have the Xth Army 
Corps with all troops available at Tronville and in front 
thereof, attack the French right. 

But these orders reached General von Voigts-Rhetz 
only after dark and in the meantime the battle on the ex- 
treme left of the Prussian fighting line had ended. 

When the attack of Wedell's Brigade went to pieces, 
General von Voigts-Rhetz issued orders not only to the 
Guard Dragoons but also to the 5th Cavalry Division to 
charge the enemy regardless of everything. The 5th Cav- 
alry Division for this purpose sent the 11th Cavalry Brigade 
to the left together with all other regiments and squadrons 
of the Xth Army Corps that could be reached.! 

Besides the French infantry that commenced to pursue 
the debris of Wedell's Brigade on the extreme hostile right 
strong cavalry masses also appeared which were seen plainly 
and of which we expected would charge at any moment 
and turn the scale of victory decisively to the French side. 

Informed that it was impossible to get forward on the 
right of Mars-la-Tour after the infantry fighting had ended 
there. General von Rheinbaben rode around the village on 
the south and brought his regiments by that road onto the 
plateau between the Jarny and Yron brooks, which were 
then held by the French cavalry. 

A heavy cavalry fight now ensued here which ended at 
dark with the defeat and retreat of the hostile cavalry. 

*0f the 25th (Hessian) Division four battalions of the 49th In- 
fantry Brigade, the 1st Cavalry Regiment and 3 batteries had crossed 
the Moselle at Noveant and kept on the march to Gorze; two of the 
batteries, covered by the 1st Cavalry Regiment, participated effec- 
tively on the right wing of the long artillery line; that artillery 
line then numbered 132 guns. 

fBesides Barby's Brigade (19th Dragoons; 3 squadrons, 13th 
Uhlans; 2 squadrons, 4th Cuirassiers) there were the 13th and 16th 
Dragoon Regiments, the 10th Hussar Regiment (3 squadrons; one 
squadron having been detached by way of Nancy to the upper Mo- 
selle and Meuse), one squadron of the 2d Guard Dragoons and the 
horse battery. Later also another squadron of the Guard Dra- 


Campaign of 1870-71 

The 6th Infantry Division in the center also received 
orders from Prince Frederick Charles to advance with ev- 
erything that could be gathered together along the road 
from Vionville towards Rezonville. 

On the right the firing line was being carried forward 
by that time, and the offensive appeared to have started 

Portions of the 25th (Hessian) Division* had in the 
meantime entered the Bois des Ognons and there encoun- 
tered the French Guard Chasseurs. 

When thus at 7 :30 P.M., the advance became general, 
it appeared as if the enemy was making another attack 
against the long artillery line in the center and against the 
5th Infantry Division, at least the artillery, rifle and ma- 
chine gun fire was resumed with great intensity. But it 
soon died out again — it was assumed that the last efforts 
of the French had been defeated. The approach of dark- 
ness and the clouds of powder smoke made a clear view im- 
possible and darkness in any case very soon brought the 
battle to a close. The expected and awaited for moment 
had arrived. 

The 6th Cavalry Division was in readiness and closed 
up in rear of the firing line of the Hid Army Corps. It had 
been designated by Prince Frederick Charles to play a con- 
spicuous role during the last and general advance. 

In spite of the critical moments which had one after 
the other arisen in the last few hours, His Royal Highness 
kept this closed up division at his disposition. 

He now gave to the Duke of Mecklenburg verbal 
orders for the attack. That attack was to be made in the 
general direction of Rezonville, the brigades drawing apart 
during the advance. The 14th Cavalry Brigade had for 
this resaon been placed in the right rear of the long artil- 
lery line, the 15th on the left towards Flavigny. This 

*The 49th Infantry Brigade, four battalions (one battalion 
having become separated from the brigade on the march during the 
afternoon). Of these four battalions only about one-third came 
actually under fire, as darkness setting in meanwhile prevented the 
deployment and employment of the available forces. 


Operations Second German Army 

latter brigade was to protect, on the right, the advance of 
the 6th Infantry Division. 

When darkness fell both brigades started the charge. 
The evening fog and the powder smoke soon hid them from 
view but the rifle fire just then starting up again enabled 
army headquarters to follow the course of the attack. 

South of Rezonville the 14th Brigade encountered hos- 
tile infantry and, received by an irregular but heavy mass 
fire, rode into the midst of that infantry, through it, rallied 
in rear, and then returned to behind the long artillery line. 

Of the 15th Brigade (which the 9th Dragoons followed) 
the Zieten Hussars made an especially brilliant charge on 
the west towards Rezonville. They drove off hostile cav- 
alry and rode down masses of infantry. Single troopers 
rode to beyond Rezonville and struck the last French re- 
serve between Rezonville and Gravelotte. Thereupon the 
brigade rallied and took position in the vicinity of Fla- 

Ihe advancing portions of the 6th Infantry Division 
ascended, during these charges, from Vionville along the 
road up to the edge of the heights west of Rezonville ;* the 
batteries of the long artillery line had gradually continued 
their advance and had reached to near the hostile infantry. f 
Darkness made it impossible to reach and take Rezonville, 
as the enemy still had strong forces there. 

With this offensive by the German army the battle 
ended, which because of its duration, tenacity and bitter- 
ness may be classed as one of the bloodiest of modern his- 

Together with the portions of the 16th Infantry Divi- 
sion that had participated, the Second Army suffered a 
loss of 581 officers and" 14,239 men. In Prussian hands were 
as trophies : 1 gun and about 2000 prisoners. 

Totally exhausted, the troops bivouacked at the spots 
where they were. Outposts were placed toward the enemy 

*They were joined by portions of the 20th Infantry Division. 

fOne battery on the left was suddenly surrounded by swarms 
of hostile infantry, was entirely taken by surprise, but freed itself 
by firing canister. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

establishing connection with each other. In general, these 
outposts extended from the Bois des Ognons along the edge 
of the woods of the Bois de St. Arnould and the Bois de 
Vionville up to the hill between Vionville and Rezonville 
— the farthest portion of the battlefield — thence to the woods 
of Tronville and from there, bending back at a right angle, 
towards Mars-la-Tour. Over near Rezonville French bivouac 
fires were seen. 

Between 8:00 and 9:00 P.M. Prince Frederick Charles 
proceeded to the right wing to Stopnagel's Division which, 
as its commander had promised, had actually held all its po- 

Only towards 10:00 P.M., after the last shots had been 
fired in the Bois des Ognons and everything was tranquil, 
did the commander-in-chief ride with his staff to Gorze from 
where the orders for August 17th were to be issued. 

The principal point was to secure the results attained 
by the heavy fighting. The direct Metz — Verdun road had 
been blocked to the enemy and the battle against a large 
numerical superiority was fortunately and at the very end 
finished by an offensive. This success could well be regarded 
as a considerable one. The Second Army had been engaged 
only with the Illd, Xth and minor portions of the IXth Army 
Corps, supported by parts of the Vlllth Army Corps.* 

But the supports from the Vlllth and IXth Corps ar- 
rived singly on the battlefield and some of them only late 
in the afternoon. Opposed to them, the enemy had his 
troops massed together in a confined space. It was by now 
known that the French 2d and 4th Corps, the Guard and the 
independent cavalry divisions had without doubt been en- 
gaged and that the remainder of the army possibly had been 
in the direct vicinity of the battlefield and possibly had been 
engaged in the battle. f 

*A11 in all a little more than 60,000 men against about 125,000 
men of the enemy. 

fThe presence of the French 6th Corps had not been reported 
to army headquarters during the action. It is probable that divi- 
sions of this corps were thought to be portions of the 2d Corps, which 
was the first to become engaged. 


Operations Second German Army 

This fact then brought u^ the question as to what the 
next morning might bring. The crisis confronting us was 
not yet overcome, notwithstanding that the situation of the 
hostile army, held at Metz, had become so unfavorable that 
it could not long evade final defeat. It could not be seen at 
the moment how many intact brigades or divisions the en- 
emy still had. It was possible that the battle would be re- 
newed in the morning and in the case we could count only on 
the support of the entire IXth Army Corps. Whether those 
fighting forces that could be ordered up during the night 
would arrive in time on the battlefield .for a final decision re- 
mained very doubtful. 

The condition of the troops that had been engaged on 
August 16th called for absolute rest. 

The actual numbers of losses which those troops had 
suffered could of course not be ascertained that evening. 
But all indications were that they would go far beyond all 
expectation. And such losses have a decided effect on any 
army. All commands had lost materially, many battalions, 
squadrons and batteries were almost without officers. 

In the extension of the battlefield, part of which con- 
sisted of wooded and mountainous terrain, tactical units had 
been disrupted. The night would be passed without doubt 
in trying to assemble troops and in reorganizing them. 

The fatigue of men and animals after a battle lasting 
10 to 11 hours was extreme. No troop unit had been able 
to cook on the 16th. The absence of water made itself felt 
on the plateau. 

There was a shortage of ammunition for infantry and 
artillery even during the battle, but the commander-in-chief 
had immediately sent orders direct to the artillery comman- 
der to have the amounts replenished during the night. 

There was no doubt but that we could not demand much 
the next morning from the exhausted men. 

Orders issued during the night had to consider, however, 
that at least some fresh troops would reach the plateau at 


Campaign of 1870-71 

The corps of the army that had not been engaged, or 
which Hke the IXth had been only partially engaged, were 
at that time at the following points : 

1. The IXth Army Corps with the 18th Infantry Divi- 
sion at Onville and Arnaville, with the corps artillery in 
the valley below Gorze, the Hessian division in the Bois des 

2. The Xllth (Royal Saxon) Army Corps in and near 
Pont-a-Mousson,* the advance guard at Regneville-en-Haye, 
the cavalry at Vigneulles. 

3. The Guard Corps at Bernecourt, advance guard at 

4. The IVth Army Corps at Les Saizerais — Marbache, 
advance guard at Jaillon. 

5. The lid Corps at Buchy and in rear thereof. 
Therefore, as stated, only the IXth Corps could reach 

the battlefield by daybreak. 

To reach the battlefield the Guard Corps would have 
to march 20 miles, the Xllth Corps, which could hardly be 
brought forward on the Noveant — Gorze road as it was 
blocked by trains, but would have to march by way of Thiau- 
court, would have to cover about 22 miles with most of its 
troops. The Ild and IVth Corps, which were still further 
off, could not be counted on for the 17th. 

*Army Headquarters had directed the Xllth Corps on August 
16th to determine the exact time which the different units of the corps 
would require to cross the bridges at Pont-a-Mousson. This ap- 
pears to be of military-historical value. ' 

The crossing took: 

the 12th Cavalry Division over the stone bridge, 1 hour, 

20 minutes; 
the 23d Infantry Division over the military bridge, 2 hours, 

30 minutes; 
the corps artillery over the stone bridge, 2 hours. 

In the course of the afternoon the 24th Infantry Division used 
both bridges to cross and part of it remained on the right bank in 
the city. 

The trains of the army corps crossed late in the evening and 
during the night. 

In stating the time required by the 23d Infantry Division, it 
should be remembered that during the crossing a leaking ponton 
had to be replaced by the pioneer platoons of the 102d Infantry 


Operations Second German Army 

In accordance with this situation the following orders 
were issued in Gorze at 11:00 P.M.: 

1. To the IXth Army Corps: 

"The Hid and the Xth Army Corps have today held 
superior hostile forces, which came from Metz, at Mars-la- 
Tour and Vionville in a heavy but victorious engagement; 
these corps have held all their positions, and have gained 
ground on the right. As it is probable that the battle 
will be continued tomorrow, I hereby order the IXth Army 
Corps to come up with ammunition columns via Gorze. 

"The Hessian Division, which arrived today, is to be 
assembled and will follow the division of Wrangle (18th) 
by way of Gorze.* 

"The corps will take a position in readiness by daylight, 
if possible, two miles northwest of Gorze on the plateau and 
will await further orders. The trains will be left behind 
under sufficient guard. 

Frederick Charles." 

2. To the Xllth (Royal Saxon) Army Corps: 

"The Hid and Xth Army Corps have today blocked a 
superior hostile force on the road through Mars-la-Tour, 
Vionville and in the direction of Gorze and have held their 
positions against the heaviest attacks. Darkness ended the 
battle. Both corps bivouac in their positions. In order to 
meet renewed attacks by the enemy early tomorrow, it is 
necessary to bring the Xllth Corps during the night by 
way of Thiaucourt at Mars-la-Tour, where the corps (if pos- 
sible at sunrise) will go into a position in readiness in rear 
of the Xth Army Corps. 

Frederick Charles." 

A note was added that the corps should bring along 
all ammunition trains but leave the remaining trains be- 

3. To the Guard Corps after giving the same informa- 
tion as to the IXth Corps : 

*It was assumed that the 18th Infantry Division was not at 
Arnaville — Onville but at Noveant or Sillegny. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

"In view of this I hereby order the Guard Corps to 
march via Beney, St. Benoit, and Chambley to Mars-la-Tour. 
There the corps will take a position in readiness on the left 
of the Royal Saxon Corps. Ammunition trains should be 
brought along as far as possible, and other trains left be- 
hind under guard ; the cavalry continues execution of the 
task set for tomorrow : advance against the Meuse. 

Frederick Charles." 

The lid and the IVth Army Corps could continue to 
carry out the army order issued at noon the 16th, which 
was, as known : 

1. For the lid Army Corps: 

"The corps will reach Pont-a-Mousson tomorrow (the 
17th of August) and sends its leading elements toward 
Limey — Flirey — St. Mihiel. Headquarters, Pont-a-Mous- 

2. For the IVth Army Corps: 

"The corps will, in the next few days, move in the 
direction of Jaillon, Sanzey and Boucq towards Commercy, 
in so far the fortress of Toul does not demand a partial 
delay of this march." 

By special orders from Pont-a-Mousson the attention 
of the IVth Army Corps had been directed to the fact that, 
according to reports from the Guard cavalry, it would be 
possible to surprise Toul. 

This operation still remained of importance in spite 
of the events of August 16th in consideration of the pro- 
posed subsequent advance westward. 

Therefore the orders for that corps were not changed. 

The execution of the intentions of the Prince, as far as 
concerned the Xllth Army Corps had already been started 
before this by direct orders from General Headquarters. 
That army corps reported during the night that it had re- 
ceived direct orders from General Headquarters to march at 
3:00 A.M. the 17th via Thiaucourt to Mars-la-Tour.* The 

*In addition the 23d Infantry Division in Regneville had re- 
ceived the following notice from an officer's patrol of the 12th Cav- 
alry Division (one squadron of the Guard Cavalry Regiment), which 
had reached the battlefield between 6 and 7 o'clock in the evening 


Operations Second Geiman Army 

corps at the same time added its march dispositions, which 
contained the M'elcome order that the cavalry division 
should proceed to the Metz — Etain road provided it did not 
encounter the enemy on the Mars-la-tour road. The recon- 
naissance of the Metz — Etain road was of the utmost im- 
portance. It was a question if the enemy, in spite of the 
battle just finished would not attempt to accomplish his 
march westward with at least some portions of his troops. 

The cavalry on the left wing, that would have had to 
make that reconnaissance on August 17th, had fought that 
evening up to dark stubbornly, continually, and had suffered 
great loss. To bring still other regiments there during the 
night appeared impossible. This will be clear if we try to 
imagine the condition in which any army will find itself 
after a battle like the one at Vionville. 

The battle had been participated in by the entire cav- 
alry of the Second Army. The appearance of fresh regi- 
ments would be very welcome if only in consideration of 
the necessary reconnaissances to learn the intentions of the 

During the battle the Saxon Cavalry Division had re- 
ported by a staff officer for orders for participation.* Of 
course this offer was not accepted considering the late hour 
and the distance. 

As had been done by the Xllth Corps, the Guard Corps 
had worked ahead of the orders from army headquarters. 
It received news on the 16th through the Xllth Corps of the 
battle. The commanding general, Prince August of Wiirt- 

while seeking connection with the 5th Cavalry Division, and had re- 
turned from that battlefield between 9:30 and 10:00 P.M.: 

"It is desirable that tomorrow (August 17th) at daybreak 

everything available be at Tronville, provided Prince Frederick 

Charles issues no different orders." 

(Sgd.) v. Voigts-Rhetz, 
Commanding X Army Corps. 
Prince Frederick Charles. 

In consequence the division was immediately alarmed, and word 
sent to General Headquarters in Pont-a-Mousson and to the Guard 
Corps. For others, General Headquarters adhered to the starting 
time at 3:00 A.M. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

temberg, therefore immediately decided to continue the 
march to the Meuse and to concentrate the corps early on the 
17th at Richecourt and Fliery so that it would be in readi- 
ness at those points at 5 :00 A.M. Cavalry was to continue 
in observation toward the Meuse. Consequently the orders 
from Prince Frederick Charles found the corps in complete 

These were the measures taken by Headquarters of 
the Second Army to insure an energetic continuation of the 
battle on August 17th. 

General Headquarters sent written information con- 
cerning the measures of the First Army, dated Pont-a- 
Mousson 8:00 P.M. The First Army had been directed to 
cross the Moselle with the Vllth and Vlllth Army Corps 
directly in rear of the troops of the IXth Army Corps and 
to march both corps by the shortest route against the enemy. 
The regulation for the route of march of both armies for 
subsequent operations west was retained by General Head- 
quarters until further orders at its discretion.* 

A second letter, dated Pont-a-Mousson August 16th at 
8:15 P.M., explained in brief the conception of the situation 
as gained at General Headquarters: 

"According to our views the decision of the campaign 
rests in driving northward the main hostile forces, retreat- 
ing from Metz. The more the Hid Army Corps has in its 
front today, the larger the victory will be tomorrow, when 
the Xth, Illd, IXth, VHIth and Vllth Corps and also the 
Xllth Corps will be available against these forces. "f 

And a note was added : 

"The corps of the lid Army that will not participate 
can halt today. 

"It appears that an early arrival at the Meuse is of 
lesser value, but the capture of Toul of greatest value. 


*In this letter emphasis was further laid on the fact that the 
most important thing was to force as large a portion as possible of 
the hostile main fighting force from Chalons and Paris to the north. 

fSee No. 172, von Moltke's Correspondence, page 261. 


Operations Second German Army 

The approach of the Guard Corps, which will not be 
considered in this narrative, v/ould only increase the chances 
of the above plan, though an interference by that corps 
could not be counted on at an early hour. 

If then the expectations for the afternoon of August 
17th were very favorable, there were many critical hours 
to overcome between sunrise and the afternoon. 

Prior to the complete arrival of the entire IXth Army 
Corps, the results of August 16th had to be maintained by 
the troops that had gained them. 


Those portions of the Second Arm^y that had fought on 
August 16th, passed the night at the following points : 

1. The 25th (Hessian) Division, in readiness for battle 
in the Bois des Ognons, opposite the French Chasseurs a 

2. The regiments of the 16th Division and the IXth 
Army Corps, that had fought on the right wing, in rear of 
the Bois de St. Arnould. 

3. The 5th Infantry Division on the hills near the Bois 
de Vionville. 

4. The 6th Infantry Division at Vionville. 

5. The corps artillery of the Illd Army Corps on the 
right of the 6th Infantry Division at Flavigny. 

6. The 6th Cavalry Division in rear of the Flavigny — 
Vionville position. 

7. The Xth Army Corps at Tronville — 5 battalions, 5 
batteries of the corps, which had been engaged on the battle- 
field of the 5th Infantry Division, mixed with portions of 
the Illd Army Corps. 

8. The 5th Cavalry Division also at Tronville in rear 
of the Xth Army Corps. 

Before sunrise August 17th Prince Frederick Charles 
proceeded to the bivouac of the 5th Infantry Division. 

What sacrifices the battle of the 16th had cost could 
now be plainly seen, more so than the evening before, when 
weak cadres, and batteries almost devoid of their comple- 


Campaign of 1870-71 

ment were encountered. But all troops had taken their 
position and were in readiness for battle. 

The night had passed tranquilly. The outposts were 
still at the points they had taken after the close of the 
battle ; the outposts of the enemy were a short distance ap- 
posite them. 

Immediately south of Rezonville and at Gravelotte ex- 
tensive bivouac fires and troops camping were seen. 

The French army still was in front of the Prussian 
army and the resumption of the battle was very possible. 

At present deep silence reigned. After 5 :30 A.M. a 
report was however received from the outposts that the 
enemy was massing at Gravelotte. Shortly thereafter num- 
erous calls were heard at Rezonville and movements became 
visible around the fires. 

The air was extraordinarily clear. Up to the line that 
was formed by the smoke of the foremost hostile bivouacs 
the battlefield could be plainly seen. The indefinite move- 
ments around the fires changed into dense skirmish swarms 
advancing against the Prussian lines. These might be skir- 
mishers of an advancing column and an attack might com- 
mence. In spite of the excellent morale that was noticeable 
in the German bivouacs at the appearance of the comman- 
der-in-chief, every hour that passed before the battle com- 
menced could be considered a distinct gain. 

The further the day advanced, the more favorable 
would be the situation of the Second Army, as its reinforce- 
ments came closer and more numerous. The Second Army 
had no interest whatever in starting a battle. Therefore 
the enemy was merely to be observed. For that observation 
the cavalry on outpost immediately in front of the enemy 
was sufficient; for the space was limited, and there was 
nowheres any extensive stretch of terrain to be covered by 
detachments sent ahead. 

But the scene soon changed. The French skirmishers 
halted at rifle range in front of the Prussian position. All 
calls and signals ceased. Life was seen only in the large 
camps opposite. Soon the enemy was seen commencing to 
retreat. The skirmishers evacuated the heights they had 


Operations Second German Army 

held* and march columns were seen forming on all roads 
from the battlefield, mainly in the direction towards Grave- 
lotte and from there towards Malmaison. Prussian cavalry 
with flankers had advanced from Vionville towards Rezon- 
ville and followed the enemy without being fired on. Shortly 
after 6 :00 A.M. it reached the village and found therein only 
v/ounded, v/ho stated that the enemy had marched off in 
haste. At 6 :00 A.M. the leading elements of the IXth Army 
Corps arrived on the plateau and this corps took a position 
in readiness under cover west of the Bois de Vionville south 
of the Gorze — Vionville road. 

Shortly after 6:00 A.M. His Majesty the King arrived 
on the battlefield at the bivouac of Stiilpnagel's Division, 
received there the report of the commander-in-chief of the 
Second Army and then selected his command post on the 
plateau southwest of Flavigny. Later on His Majesty, ac- 
companied by Prince Frederick Charles, proceeded to the 
hill at Flavigny to reconnoiter from there the hostile posi- 

The enemy's movements continued. The roads from 
Gravelotte to Metz and also to Malmaison and Verneville 
were densely covered with troops. Between those roads and 
alongside of them strong detachments were seen marching. 
It was impossible to gain a clear idea of the purposes and 
objectives of these masses moving hither and thither. Sim- 
ultaneously with these movements it was also perceived 
that French fighting forces were marching towards Grave- 

A report received by the army commander from the 
outposts of the 6th Cavalry Division even stated : 

"The French have massed across the Gravelotte — Con- 
flans road, west of the former place. Strong columns of all 
arms are drawing up to that point from the northwest. It 
appears a new corps is coming up and intends to break forth 
on that road. A few companies have advanced to the left 
front and have skirmishers out, evidently awaiting orders 
to advance. 

*It is very probable that these were the last troops of the 
enemy, who had commenced to evacuate the battlefield at daybreak. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

"New detachments are appearing from Vionville on the 
hill marching towards Gravelotte. At present one cavalry- 
brigade is in position there." 

Ascending smoke, apparently from new bivouac fires, 
hid many things from view. 

During the morning hours troops ready for battle were 
reported as seen west and south of Gravelotte, apparently 
for the purpose of covering hostile measures. Departing 
columns in rear still occupied the roads. A general staff 
officer from army headquarters was sent there for recon- 
naissance. About that time it still appeared quite possible 
that the enemy might start a battle again. 

The officer soon reported: 

■ 17 August 1870, 11:30 A.M. 

"According to all appearances no attack by the enemy 
is to be expected. He has taken up a rearguard position at 
Gravelotte. To judge by the smoke, he is cooking. A few 
trains are departing for Metz just now." 

A sketch of the hostile position at Gravelotte was added. 

The outposts reported about the same, for instance: 

"The enemy has occupied Gravelotte with infantry, is 
foraging, and is attempting to carry away the supplies 
nearby. On the heights of the Bois de Vaux [Le Point du 
Jou7''] he has skirmishers and his last artillery is leaving 
by the road to Metz. 

"Columns, infantry and trains, are withdrawing on the 
road to Verneville. 

"Much infantry is withdrawing from the road leading 
to Metz, towards the road leading from Gravelotte to Don- 
court ; as this move is taking place behind the village and be- 
hind a ridge its strength cannot be exactly stated. Hostile 
trumpet calls can be heard in the direction of Metz and are 
getting fainter, they can also be heard on the left flank, 
where they are louder."* 

Though these incoming reports gave no absolute cer- 
tainty as to details, and did not agree with each other in all 

*These reports came from the 6th Cavalry Division, w^hich fur- 
nished the outposts for the Hid Army Corps. 


Operations Second German Army 

parts, the general conclusion could be arrived at however 
that the enemy was withdrawing on this flank and that his 
withdrawal was covered by a rear guard position in Grave- 

During the afternoon hours hostile masses became visi- 
ble on the heights at Leipzig and Moscou Farm and when 
Prussian staff officers showed themselves reconnoitering 
south of Gravelotte*, the enemy immediately greeted them 
with machine gun fire. A slight skirmish opened up in the 
Bois de Vaux between the leading elements of the Vllth 
Army Corps and French advanced troops. 

Thus the enemy had a firm foothold immediately west 
of Metz and was in readiness to enegetically dispute any ap- 
proach to his position. 

Hovvever, what was seen there was not the whole 
French army but only its left wing. The masses that could 
be seen had a strength of about 3-4 divisions. 

The question remained, where had the right wing 
which had been engaged in battle on August 16th west of 
the Tronville woods and the other side thereof gone to? 
The supposition that a partition had occurred in Bazaine's 
army during the night of the 16-17th, had to be reckoned 

In this regard we could arrive at no conclusion from 
the standpoint of Sacond Army Headquarters based on our 
own knowledge. From the hills of Flavigny the terrain 
around Bruville where the hostile right wing had operated 
the day before could not be seen. This second part of the 
question to be solved this day, could be cleared up only by 
reports from the patrols sent out. 

Many of these reports came in and all stated, agreeing 
with each other, that the enemy's right wing was withdraw- 
ing westward. 

One of these reports stated: 

"Columns can be seen at St. Marcel marching towards 
Verdun. At Bruville is an extensive camp. At Farm 

*His Royal Highness Prince Adalbert and later on General 

von Zastrow, with their staffs. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

la Greyere are hostile pickets (infantry and cavalry). At 
Bruville, on the road to Jarny, are hostile infantry columns." 

This report was dated 9:30 A.M. and came from the 
advanced troops of the 5th Cavalry Division.* The ad- 
vanced troops of the 6th Cavalry Division also reported : 
"Strong French cavalry detachments are marching west on 
the road to Jarny." 

No reports were received contradicting these. Even 
clouds of dust were seen from St. Marcel westward and 
this appeared to confirm the observations made by the out- 
post cavalry. 

There was no reason to doubt the correctness of the re- 
ports, everything spoke for their truth. 

The possibility that the enemy would take a position 
with his rear towards Metz and the steep, wooded ravines 
on the left bank of the Moselle and there accept a second 
battle, was not entertained at headquarters of the Second 
Army. Such a decision had to be considered as fatal to the 
enemy, considering the German numerical superiority and 
the views held in those days. That superiority in numbers 
the enemy was doubtlessly cognizant of, and he also knew 
that the German troops were in the immediate vicinity. 

It could not on August 17th, be guessed that besides 
interior reasons, the condition of the troops after the 
battle of the 16th — lack of ammunition and subsistence, 
confusion in administration — chained Bazaine's army to 
the vicinity of Metz. It was believed, for instance, that 
that army was plentifully supplied with everything as it 
had been for several days in close connection with the abun- 
dant supplies of the fortress. 

According to the view held by headquarters of the Sec- 
ond Army the march westward, though combined with dan- 
ger, offered the enemy a good chance of ending fortunately. 
If he remained at Metz, his complete destruction was merely 
a matter of time. 

*The 13th Cavalry Brigade at Puxieux had addressed that re- 
port to headquarters of the Xth Army Corps, which latter transmitted 
it to army headquarters. 


Operations Second German Army 

But what we considered a grave error, we had no right 
to assume would be the intention of the enemy. Normal 
conditions and correct decision on the part of the enemy are 
always the correct basis on which to base our own actions. 

For that reason Prince Frederick Charles was convinced 
that that portion of the hostile army seen east of Grave- 
lotte and on the hills of Le Point du Jour, Moscou and 
Leipsig, was the minor part of the army and that the prin- 
cipal part of the French army had started a retreat west- 
ward at dark August 16th, or was marching directly north 
by way of Briey. Under the latter assumption it remained 
quite probable that he would have reached Briey by this 
time. On the morning of August 17th weak flank columns 
might have been seen on the Conflans road. 

As stated, army headquarters had reports from that 
direction of movements of the French. Of course these 
reports were unconfirmed and there was doubt as to their 
correctness. A more decided attack against the enemy 
would have furnished better results for the reconnaissance, 
but at that time everything that could have led to a prema- 
ture resumption of the battle was avoided. 

Before we explain why a more serious engagement 
wa3 agai.nst the best interests of the Second Army, we will 
give a short view of conditions on the extreme left of the 
Second Army. 

The Royal Saxon cavalry was active on that flank on 
August 17th. On the morning of that day in accordance 
with orders issued by the Crown Prince of Saxony it started 
from Vigneulles at a rapid gait, passed the Metz — Mars-la- 
Tour — Verdun road at Harville, 7 miles west of Mars-la- 
Tour, and as early at 9 :00 A.M. reached, at St. Jean-les- 
Buzy, the northern road leading from Metz via Conflans to 
Verdun. Only a few train-troops were encountered during 
that ride. Etain also was found unoccupied in the after- 

*The division learned from inhabitants in St. Jean-les-Buzy 
that Emperor Napoleon with a numerous escort — about 5000 men 
— coming from Metz, had passed along the road to Conflans. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

These events were then known to army headquarters.* 

While the different assumptions concerning the inten- 
tions of the enemy were thoroughly discussed on the bat- 
tlefield of Vionville and while definite ideas were formed, 
the army corps that had been designated for support ar- 

Early in the afternoon the Xllth (Royal Saxon) Army 
Corps arrived in bivouacs between Mars-la-Tour and Pux- 

At 1:00 P.M. the Guard Corps also reported that it had 
arrived at Puxieux and was resting there. 

Thus the corps that could have been available for the 
continuation of the battle on August 17th had arrived. The 
First Army was in close communication with the Second. 
Since 6:00 A.M. the columns of the Vllth and Vlllth Corps 
had been crossing the Moselle. The first touch of the leading 
elements of the Vllth Corps with the enemy occurred in the 
Bois de Vaux. Thus the battle could now be renewed with 
fresh forces. This intention General Headquarters held 
also and mentioned to the Prince, but the latter and some 
of the corps commanders that were present held an oppo- 
site view. 

The troops that did arrive this day had had a fatig- 
uing march. It would be necessary to continue the march 
to attack the enemy. Therefore, a serious battle could 
start only in the afternoon and might end in victory, but 
only with a partial decision. Darkness would have ended 
the battle prematurely and would have doubtlessly pre- 
vented pursuit. Headquarters of the Second Army did not 
feel inclined to do this, but now wanted to finish things 
with one stroke. 

No apprehension whatever was entertained but that 
the enemy would be found on August 18th. Prince Fred- 

*The Saxon cavalry division had sent a I'eport to corps head- 
quarters as early as 7:30 A.M. fi'om the direction of Mars-la-Tour. 
That report reached the Crown Prince of Saxony while he was with 
the advance guard of the corps coming from Thiaucourt at 1:00 P.M. 
only, that is, at the time when army headquarters at Flavigny issued 
its orders for that day. 

fOne battalion remained with General Headquarters at Pont-a- 


Operations Second German Army 

erick Charles had no doubt at all about that. At the time 
he still believed that the enemy intended to evade the 
German armies by withdrawing westward. He rather reck- 
oned with certainty on being able to overtake the enemy the 
next day ; for he had to make quite a detour before reaching 
the protection of the Meuse line. In addition the French 
army was confined to a very few roads with its clumsy 
masses, which up to then had not proved they could march. 
These facts increased the difficulties of escaping. 

If the battle could be waged on August 18th, the lid 
Army Corps could be brought up for participation. 

Therefore the intentions of Prince Frederick Charles 
were not to attack the enemy before the 18th, to start on 
that day as early as possible so that the sun would still be 
high by the time a final decision was reached. However, 
prior to that the sanction of General Headquarters had to 
be obtained before army headquarters could issue its or- 
ders. This was done, and after General Headquarters had 
sent its approval, the Prince issued the following army 
orders : 

"On the Battlefield, Vionville, August 17, 1870, 1:00 

"The enemy appears to be withdrawing partly north- 
westward and partly towards Metz. 

"The Second Army, and the Vlllth and Vllth Army 
Corps, will tomorrow seek in a northerly direction the 
marching enemy and beat him. 

"Today the corps are bivouacking by corps on the bat- 
tlefield of Vionville, the IXth Corps on the right. Its 
outposts will seek connection in the woods in their front with 
the outposts of the Vlllth Corps which is bivouacking at 
Gorze, and they will extend their line to the left to the Metz 
— Verdun road in front of Flavigny. 

"The Illd Army Corps is camping at Vionville and Fla- 
vigny, its outposts, connecting with those of the IXth Corps 
will extend to the left to the west edge of the woods north 
of Vionville. 

"The Xllth (Royal Saxon) Army Corps will today 
go into bivouac at Mars-la-Tour and place outposts as far as 


Campaign of 1870-71 

the Yron brook, sending a cavalry detachment to beyond 
Hannonville to observe the road to Verdun. 

"The corps that are posting outposts, will so far as the 
enemy allows, have officers reconnoiter the terrain in their 
front as to its passibility for marching, 

"The Xth Army Corps remains in its camp at Tronville. 

"The Guard Corps goes into camp at Puxieux, 

"The lid Army Corps will leave Pont-a-Mousson at 4 :00 
A.M. tomorrow and march via Arnaville, Bayonville and 
Onville to Buxieres, will mass north of that place and cook 

"Army headquarters today in Buxieres. 

Frederick Charles." 

The following was added to the orders for the IVth 
Army Corps : 

"On the right of the IVth Corps only the Guard Uhlan 
Brigade remains with directions to scout along the Meuse to 
St. Mihiel. 

"The IVth Army Corps takes position on the line Boucq 
— Sanzey — Jaillon." 

The orders of General Headquarters, though given ver- 
bally, were written down by General Moltke briefly, and 
read : * 

"The Second Army will fall in at 5 :00 A.M. tomorrow 
the 18th and advance in echelons between the Yron and the 
Gorze creeks (in general between Ville-sur-Yron and Rezon- 

"The Vlllth Army Corps will join this movement on 
the right wing of the Second Army. At the start the Vllth 
Army Corps will have the task to protect the movements of 
the Second Army against possible operations from Metz. 

"Further orders from His Majesty the King will de- 
pend on the measures taken by the enemy. 

"Send reports for the present for His Majesty the King 
to hill south of Flavigny. 

VON Moltke." 
17 August 1870, 1:45 P.M. (dictated on the battlefield of Vionville). 

*See von Moltke's Correspondence, No. 174, page 261. 


Operations Second German Army 

This gave the general instructions for the task of the 
Second Army for August 18th. Special orders could be is- 
sued — possibly changed — on the morning of the 18th of Au- 
gust based on the then existing situation. 

Prince Frederick Charles directed the commanding 
generals of the Guard, Xth and Xllth Army Corps to report 
to him at the bivouac of the Saxon Corps at Mars-la-Tour 
by 5 :00 A.M. ; and those of the Illd and IXth Corps at 5 :30 
A.M. at the bivouac of the Illd Corps west of Vionville, to 
receive verbal orders. 

As there was no reason to expect any engagement to- 
day and as His Majesty the King had returned to his head- 
quarters at Pont-a-Mousson, Prince Frederick Charles now 
left the battlefield and dismounted at the small village of 
Buxieres at 4:00 P.M. 

The orders from Army Headquarters had not been car- 
ried out in full. As the Guard Corps reported at about 1:00 
P.M. that it was resting at Puxieux, while at the same time 
the Xllth Army Corps was already approaching the village 
of Mars-la-Tour, army headquarters had thought it best to 
assign to the Guard Corps a bivouac at Puxieux, that is, 
in rear of the Saxons. This had been done in the orders 
just mentioned. 

However, the Guard Corps proceeded to its bivouac 
at Hannonville-au-Passage assigned to it by prior orders, 
which it had received during the night of August 16th, and 
reported that fact to army headquarters. This report crossed 
on its way with the army orders just then being sent to 
the Guard Corps. 

The Guard Corps, even after it had received the orders, 
remained in the bivouac it had taken so as not to again in- 
terrupt the rest of the greatly fatigued troops. 


On the morning of August 18th, the different parts 
of the Second Army were at the following points: 

1, The IXth Army Corps on the plateau west of Bois de 


Campaign of 1870-71 

2. The Hid Army Corps with the 6th Cavalry Division 
at Vionville — Flavigny ; a portion of the corps at Buxieres 
— Chambley.* 

3. The Xth Army Corps at Tronville, the 5th Cavalry 
Division in its rear. 

4. The Xllth Army Corps south of Mars-la-Tour and 

5. The Guard Corps south of Hannonville-au-Passage. 

6. The lid Army Corps approaching Buxieres from 
Pont-a-Mousson where it had arrived on the 17th. 

7. The IVth Army Corps at Boucq (not far from Toul) . 
Shortly before 5:00 A.M. Prince Frederick Charles ar- 
rived at the bivouac of the Xllth Corps at Mars-la-Tour. 

The verbal orders issued to the corps commanders here 
and later to the corps commanders at Vionville could of 
course rest only on the knowledge of the situation of the 
enemy known at that time. 

Reports received by the army commander stated that 
the enemy had been on the march towards evening of the 
17th of August on both roads to the west in front of the 
Second Army. For that reason the estimate of the situa- 
tion remained the same as it had been the afternoon of the 

The commander-in-chief personally believed it probable 
that the French bivouacs east of Gravelotte, observed the 
day before, would have disappeared by now. 

He believed, as stated, that it would be wrong to as- 
sume that the army under Bazaine would take a position 
and accept battle against a German superiority, with its 
rear against Metz and the steep Moselle valley. He far 

*To that place the 5th Infantry Division had moved on August 
17th, as there was no water in its bivouac en the plateau. 

fThe 12th Cavalry Division had passed the night at Parfon- 
drupt with outposts on the Metz- — Conflans — Etain road. At St. 
Jean-les-Buzy on this road three persons (one of them a certain Mar- 
quis de Margerie, said to be a higher supply official) had been 
stopped the night of the 17th and had been sent by a staff officer 
as suspicious persons first to corps headquarters of the Xllth Corps, 
then to Army Headquarters. The latter sent them to General 
Headquarters. Patrols of the Xllth Army Corps had scouted up to 
Jarny on the 17th without seeing anything of the enemy. 


Operations Second German Army 

rather held it probable that on the 18th of August the 
Second Army would strike the enemy's left flank to the 
north of its front. Certainly this was only a hypothesis. 

Certainty would be attained about this matter by a 
short march to the front in the early morning hours. During 
the advance march however it had to be especially remem- 
bered that the enemy was doubtlessly very close and that 
a battle might ensue at any moment. This required that 
the march should not be in long march columns but with 
large masses ready for battle. According to conceptions of 
the terrain, which could be gleaned from maps, this appeared 
to offer no material diflflculties. Army orders of August 17th 
had in addition, charged the corps in the first line to recon- 
noiter the foreground. For these reasons Prince Frederick 
Charles considered it proper to have the Saxon Army Corps 
start first and to have the Guard Corps follow it, though 
the march directions of both corps would cross in the vicin- 
ity of Mars-la-Tour. 

Therefore the verbal orders issued by Prince Frederick 
Charles contained the following: 

"The Second Army will this morning continue the 
march to the front. Its task remains as heretofore to 
push the enemy away from his route of retreat on Verdun 
— Chalons, and to beat him wherever found. 

"The Xllth Army Corps will start as leading echelon 
of the left wing at once ;* in its right rear the Guard Corps ; 
and the IXth Army Corps (at 6:00 A.M.) to the right rear 
of the Guard Corps. 

"The Xllth Army Corps will march on Jarny, the Guard 
Corps on Doncourt. The IXth Corps, after it has marched 
between Vionville and Rezonville, will advance, leaving St. 
Marcel close to its left. 

"In second line follow, opposite the intervals, on the 
right the Hid, and on the left the Xth Army Corps. The 6th 
Cavalry Division will be under the orders of the Illd Corps, 
the 5th Cavalry Division under the orders of the Xth Corps. 

*These orders were issued at 5:00 A.M. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

"The corps artillery of the Illd Corps remains at the 
disposition of Army Headquarters as army reserve artil- 

"On the right of the Second Army the two corps of fhe 
First Army will advance, the Vlllth Corps in rear of the 
IXth Corps, the Vllth Corps farther toward Metz.* 

"The trains remain where they have passed the night, 
those of the IXth Army Corps between Vionville and Rezon- 
ville, where water can be found. 

"The advance will be made, not in long march columns, 
but by massed divisions, the corps artillery marching be- 
tween its two divisions. The question at the start is only 
one of an advance of less than four miles, so as to occupy 
the northern road to Verdun. Rest will be taken during 
the noon hour." 

In a few words the Prince finally explained to the corps 
commanders his estimate of the situation concerning the 
enemy, so as to assure thorough and correct cooperation be- 
tween all portions of the army. This same estimate was the 
basis for the instructions already issued which formed the 
entire Second Army into one unit, the several units of which 
were in close liaison. The Army was to push forward as 
a mass of brigades of enormous dimensions, and marching 
continually in such manner would be prepared to turn either 
to the right or to the left according as to how and where the 
left flank corps would be the first to become engaged. 

The Prince himself intended to keep with the leading 
elements of the Illd Army Corps at the start of the march. 

The corps that were to start the first at once made all 
preparations therefor. The leading elements of the Xllth 
Army Corpsf which defiled in march columns through the 
village of Mars-la-Tour, reached the main Metz — Harville 
— Verdun road with its first sections at 5 :40 A.M. 

*For the short march the cavalry then with the corps in the 
first line sufficed for reconnaissance; there were no large plains be- 
tween the Second Army and the enemy. Therefore the 5th and 6th 
Cavalry Divisions were kept back. The Saxon Cavalry Division was 
in front, the Cuirassier Brigade of the Guard Corps, the Grand Ducal 
Hessian Cavalry Brigade as well as the cavalry division regiments 
of the 5th Infantry Division were also out in front. 

flOSth Rifle Regiment. 


Operations Second German Army 

From the place west of Vionville, where the comman- 
der-in-chief had issued his orders to the commanding gen- 
erals of the Illd and IXth Corps, St. Marcel, Doncourt, Bru- 
ville, Jarny and their surroundings could plainly be seen. 
It was definitely ascertained by field glasses that the entire 
country around there was free of the enemy. 

When now Prince Frederick Charles sent his report of 
the commencement of the advance of the Second Army as 
indicated by the start of the Xllth Army Corps towards 
Jarny to General Headquarters on the hill at Flavigny, he 
added thereto : 

"No hostile troops whatever are marching on the road 
from St. Marcel to Doncourt. The camp at St. Marcel is 
empty. During the night troops did march on that road." 

The enemy, who had been north in front of the Second 
Army, had thus disappeared. The question, in addition, 
was what had become of those hostile fighting forces that 
had been observed yesterday to the east in front of the 
right wing of the Second Army. 

The first information which was sent in by a picket 
opposite Gravelotte, also appeared to indicate the departure 
of the French. The officer in charge of that picket re- 
ported: "I have been to within 400 paces of the hostile 
camp. The enemy has taken no security measures there. 
His strength is about 6 to 9 divisions of infantry.* 

"As far as can be seen the artillery has driven off ; cav- 
alry: one to 2 regiments in white tunics. The entire thing 
creates the impression of a hasty departure for Metz; at 
this time there are about 6 to 8000 infantry still east of 
Gravelotte.— August 18, 1870, 4:50 A.M." 

Very soon thereafter a report was received from the 
advanced troops of the 18th Division, as follows : 

*There is no doubt but what he meant French half-battalions, 
as otherwise the statement of the strength made below as 6 to 
8000 men infantry could not be explained. And the sight of 6 to 
8 infantry divisions would probably have caused that officer to re- 
port that he had seen the entire French army. In any case, ho 
viewed entirely too small a space to be able to gain the impression 
that he had three army corps in his front. His statement also indi- 
cated in connection with his statement in regard to cavalry and ar- 
tillery, that he meant weaker troop units. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

1. Gravelotte unoccupied this morning.* 

2. According to a report from the dragoon picket the 
"general" was beaten in the camp, and that picket says it 
observed movements of the enemy toward the northwest. 

3. The two companies in Rezonville report hostile in- 
fantry patrols in the woods north of Rezonville. — August 18, 
1870; 5:15 A.M. 

Of the very great interest at that very time was the sen- 
tence in the first report: "the entire thing creates the im- 
pression of a hasty departure for Metz." 

According to the estimate of the situation the com- 
mander-in-chief had formed, this was not only not impos- * 
sible but rather probable. If only a portion of the enemy's 
army was immediately west of Metz, it appeared correct 
if the enemy, in the face of the very great German numeri- 
cal superiority in readiness to advance, retreated to under 
the cannon of Metz. 

Furthermore the statement in the second report to the 
effect that the enemy was alarming his camp became of 
importance, also that movements were occurring toward the 
northwest. In order to gain rapid information of condi- 
tions on that flank, and as could not be seen from the place 
where the Prince was. Prince Frederick Charles sent an 
engineer oflficer of his staff to the vicinity of Gravelotte to 
gain more definite information. 

This officer first sent a message from the outposts 
in the north edge of the Bois des Ognons, which mentioned 
the marching off of the enemy in a northerly and northeas- 
terly direction and stated that this information was entirely 
reliable. But soon thereafter his personal observations 
led him to an entirely different opinion. The first message 
(dated 6:40 A.M.) was received at army headquarters at 
7 :30 A.M. Three-quarters of an hour later a second mes- 
sage followed, stating that the camp was still intact and 
that no troops had left it. These latter messages were results 
of personal reconnaissance, not statements of outposts. 

*As early as the 17th patrols had visited that place. Up to 
very early in the morning of the 18th however numerous French 
soldiers were seen around there carrying water. 


Operations Second German Army 

Movements, the report continued, had been seen of course 
since 3 :00 A.M. 

The next report from that engineer officer (dated 8:45 
A.M.) confirmed the last report. It read: 

"Movements throughout the camp, it appears infan- 
try is being concentrated farther to the rear; the edge of 
the hills still occupied by artillery. 

"The movements in the camp during the night were 
caused by trains coming in ; new bivouac fires being lighted. 
At present hour but slight firing by outposts." 

The enemy still held his positions on the heights east 
of Gravelotte and made no attempt whatever to leave them. 
Of this fact there was now no doubt. 

There was no definite information as yet from the left 
wing of the army, no message of any importance had been 

The first report from that flank came from the Guard 
Cavalry and reached the commander-in-chief at 8:30 A.M.: 

"Inhabitants of Bruville state that the French left 
Doncourt yesterday at 9:00 A.M. They do not know the 
direction in which they left. Some state to Verdun, others 
to Briey, and still others to Metz." 

Thus, nothing certain was gleaned from that report, it 
only proved that last night no column of importance marched 
on the road to Jarny. ■' "^^ * * 

About this time — at 8 :30 A.M. — General Headquarters 
held the view that the hostile main forces were in front of 
Metz and that their position reached to Amanvillers.f 

*Concerning the importance attached to the road from Verdun, 
the Xllth Army Corps received orders about 7:45 A.M.: "to direct the 
cavalry detachment scouting on its left flank to also send all reports 
direct to army headquarters." 

fAs is now known the French army occupied the following posi- 
tions on August 18: 

1. The 6th Corps: Roncourt— St. Privat to the small swamp 

east of St. Ail; 

2. The 4th Corps: Amanvillers — Montigny-la-Grange; Cham- 

penois occupied in front; 

3. The 3d Corps: La Folie — Leipzig — Moscou towards Le 

Point du Jour, advanced troops in the Bois des Geni- 
vaux ; 


Campaign of 1870-71 

An officer of the general staff brought this information. 
It was still considered desirable that the Second Army 
continue its march in the direction heretofore held to. 
"Should the northern road to Verdun be free of the enemy, 
the Xllth and the Guard Corps ought not to be sent far to 
the left." If the assumption which had been made should be 
confirmed, then the First Army was designated to attack in 
front, the IXth Corps to envelop the hostile right wing, the 
Guard Corps to form the reserve. The rest of the corps 
were to halt for the present. 

The dispositions made by Prince Frederick Charles had 
already arranged for such a halt with a view to the neces- 
sity of preserving the strength of the troops. It only re- 
mained to issue special orders to the IXth Corps which was 
to receive a definite battle task. It therefore received the 
following orders : 

"VioNviLLE, 8:35 A.M., 18 August 1870. 

"As soon as its infantry of the main body reaches 
Caulre Farm, northeast of St. Marcel, the IXth Corps will 
halt, will send cavalry points towards Leipzig, St. Privat- 
la-Montagne and to connect with the Guard Corps which 
will also halt at Doncourt. Reports of the cavalry sent 
west will, in addition to being sent to me, be also sent to 
General von Moltke. 

Frederick Charles."* 

Corresponding orders were sent to the Guard Corps to 
halt at Doncourt, to the Xllth Corps to halt at Jarny. 

Other instructions could not be sent at this time to 
those two corps, as the strength of the enemy on our right 

4. The 2d Corps: Le Point du Jour, Rozerieulles; Ste. Ruf- 

fine occupied on the left flank; 

5. The Cavalry Division of Forton at the mill of Longeau; 

6. The Cavalry Division of Barail (of which two regiments 

had escorted the Emperor and were absent) in the po- 
sitions of the 6th Corps; 

7. The Guard in reserve on the heights of the Mont St. 

Quentin and near Plappeville. 

The right flank of this position could not be seen from the heights 
at Flavigny. 

*Copies of this order were sent to General Headquarters with 
the addition that the Xllth Corps would halt at Jarny, the Xth at 


Operations Second German Army 

flank was not yet known, so that we could not form a clear 
judgment as to whether besides the IXth Corps, other por- 
tions of the Second Army could also be employed against 

The Xth Army Corps also received orders to remain 
near Bruville when it reached there.* The Illd Corps had 
not yet started its march. 

These were the measures taken by headquarters of the 
Second Army in consequence of the first information re- 
ceived from General Headquarters. Before it took further 
measures, more definite information and results of recon- 
naissances had to be awaited, which could not be very far 

First, at 8:50 A.M. came a report from the extreme 
left wing of the Army, the Xllth Corps, which had arrived 
at Jarny in the meantime, without encountering the enemy. 
It stated : 

"North of Labry, 8 :50 A.M.f 

"It appears hostile artillery is in position west of Val- 
leroy, also columns west of Valleroy, also columns north of 

This report corresponded to the assumption of Prince 
Frederick Charles that the enemy had separated his forces. 

On the right, on the heights of Point du Jour (the ene- 
my was in position, to the left, according to that report, 
he now also showed himself. It appeared that the Second 
Army was now in touch with the enemy also on its left 
wing, just as the right wing had hostile forces in its prox- 
imity. It remained to await detailed information which 
both flank corps were without doubt seeking. 

The report from the Crown Prince of Saxony was now 
shown to be erroneous by a second report arriving at head- 
quarters of the Second Army at about 9:30 A.M. It was 
stated that minute reconnaissance had shown that Valleroy 

*At this time the Xth Corps was still at its bivouac places, but 
this could not be seen from the place where army headquarters 

fThe fact that the date of this report was the same as the date 
of its arrival at army headquarters may be explained by difference 
in watches. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

was not occupied by the enemy. It was added that the Xllth 
Corps would remain at Jarny awaiting further orders and 
that the Saxon cavalry would in the meantime reconnoiter 
the Briey road. 

Thus, there was no touch as yet with the enemy on the 
left flank of the army. 

As stated several times above, the commander-in-chief 
thought it very probable that the enemy would be found 
there, and he did not believe that the report was erroneous, 
he remained convinced that similar reports like the first, 
now contradicted, from the Xllth Army Corps would prob- 
ably be received in the further advance of that corps. It 
might be true that hostile troops had been at Valleroy, and 
had disappeared again.* 

To this came, that during the time between the arrival 
of the first and second report, the IXth Army Corps re- 
ported from Caulre : "Our patrols sent out north and north- 
eastward have seen nothing of the enemy. "f This, like ear- 
lier reports, appeared to indicate that the deployment of 
troops by the enemy immediately west of Metz were not on 
an extensive scale. 

Prince Frederick Charles now more than ever believed 
that the further advance of the reconnoitering detach- 
ments on the extreme left of the army ought to be waited 
for, before finally deciding on the right turn of the army. 

Very soon thereafter a further order was received 
from General Headquarters: 

"An unimportant skirmish engagement on the right 
wing of the Vllth Corps. The troops visible on the heights 
towards Metz appear to move northward, probably towards 
Briey. It does not appear that the First Army requires 
much more support than can be rendered by the Hid Corps 
from Vionville or from St. Marcel. 

"Hill south of Flavigny, 9 :20 AM. 


*In regard to this we may remark, getting ahead of our nar- 
rative, that as a matter of fact patrols of the enemey were later on 
chased away from the vicinity of Moineville and Valleroy. 

fThe report from General von Manstein concerning his arrival 
at Caulre contains that information. 


Operations Second German Army 

The support by the Illd Army Corps here directed 
could be easily arranged as that corps was in readiness at 

In the meantime, about 9:00 A.M., General von Man- 
stein (commanding the IXth Army Corps) reported under 
date of 8:30 A.M., Caulre Farm, that he had arrived with 
the IXth Army Corps at Caulre and would remain assembled 
there according to orders. 

This halt had been ordered by General von Manstein 
even prior to the receipt of the last orders from army head- 
quarters, based on the general march orders issued that 

As has been stated, the IXth Army Corps had been des- 
ignated for the support of the First Army by Prince Fred- 
erick Charles. General Headquarters received information 
thereof later on, at 10:10 A.M. 

Three, and four respectively, of the corps present of 
the Second Army still remained at the disposal of army 

They were in readiness to attack the enemy in his left 
flank, should he actually attempt to march off from his pres- 
ent positions at Metz. 

The interval between 9:30 and 10:00 A.M. had now 
passed without any further report coming from the Xllth 
Army Corps, while still the cavalry points of that division, 
as was known, scouted beyond Valleroy. This contradicted 
the assumptions held up to then that portions of Bazaine's 
army would have to be sought there ; and now the situation 
commenced to clear up. 

Before we will recount the further measures taken by 
army headquarters, which from now on had for their ob- 
jective the attack against the enemy in position immediately 
west of Metz, we must picture to ourselves how the situa- 
tion was perceived in those days. 

We are much inclined to picture today as having been 
actually known, things which were in fact then unknown. 
It is far better for understanding the events and far truer 
historically, so see only that what could be seen then. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

The French army extended from le Point du Jour as far 
as the heights of Roncourt and St. Privat in a prepared po- 
sition, waiting for the attack. 

But so far only the left wing of that position had ac- 
tually been located. On August 17th a French camp of 
several divisions, that is a portion of and not the entire army 
of Bazaine, had been seen immediately east of Gravelotte. 
The results of the reconnaissances early on the morning of 
August 18th brought no more than that. They confirmed 
the report that a few French divisions stood on the heights 
of le Point du Jour. The first report from General Head- 
quarters stated that it believed the hostile right extended as 
far as Amanvillers. The patrols sent from Caulre Farm 
northeastward had, as stated, found no enemy. Thus, it 
appeared that the French position did not reach far to the 

Therefore Headquarters of the Second Army believed 
it to be the most probable that the enemy's right was at La 

Thus, a French battle position on the ridge from le 
Point-du-Jour as far as La Folie now formed the objective 
for the measures to be taken. 

As stated, the lid Army Corps had orders to envelop the 
French right wing with its IXth Army Corps and to have 
the Guard serve as reserve. 

It therefore appeared to the point to send these two 
corps, to turn to the right, so far north as to come opposite 
the assumed right point of the French position. They were 
to march to Verneville. From there they could attack the 
French right, should that be at La Folie, in front and flank 
with superior forces. 

Of course arrangements had to be made in the move- 
ment about to commence for reconnaissance far towards 
the north. 

Therefore Prince Frederick Charles issued the follow- 
ing orders : 

1. To the IXth Army Corps, at 10:00 A.M.: 


Operations Second German Army 

"The corps will start and advance in the direction of 
Verneville and La Folie. If the enemy has his right wing 
there, the battle will be opened at the start by deploying con- 
siderable artillery, 

Frederick Charles." 

2. To the Guard Corps, at 10:15 A.M.: 
"The Guard Corps will continue its march via Don- 
court to Verneville and there take position for the support 
of the IXth Corps, which is advancing on La Folie against 
the hostile right, 

"Reconnaissance left via Amanvillers and St. Privat- 
la-Montagne ; early reports desirable. 

Frederick Charles." 

Copies of these orders were sent to the Xllth Army 
Corps.* The Crown Prince of Saxony had added to his re- 
port in the morning, as stated above, that he would remain 
at Jarny until further orders. The corps could be held there 
for the present at the disposition of army headquarters, as 
there was no room on the plateau of La Folie for anything 
else besides the IXth and Guard Corps, At Jarny the Xllth 
Corps was in a good position in case that it became necessary 
to send detachments from the Second Army to the north or 

The IXth Corps, in addition, in regard to its conduct 
in battle, was restricted at first to opening the battle with 
an artillery fight; but this restriction was to be governed 
by the situation. The IXth Corps was closest to the ene- 
my ; it formed the pivot of the movement about to com- 
mence. According to the nature of things it would come on 
the enemy not only alone, but also materially earlier' than 
the Guard Corps. It had to be consequently prevented 
from becoming engaged with a hostile superiority in a fron- 
tal battle before the hostile right wing could be enveloped. 

At this moment, when the Second Army enters on this 
day a new phase of activity, it is well to follow the events 
of the different corps during the early morning hours. 

*Copies also to General Headquarters, in which Prince Fred- 
erick Charles also requested permission to bring the Hid Army Corps 
which still was at Vionville to Caulre Farm. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

The advance of the army during the early morning 
hours that day had not been made without difficulties and 
unforeseen obstacles. 

First, the Xllth Army Corps encountered such mater- 
ial obstacles in the terrain around Mars-la-Tour for deploy- 
ment of its divisions in masses, as to be forced to defile 
through Mars-la-Tour in march columns, and it was able to 
assume the formation directed by Prince Frederick Charles 
only when north of the village.* 

Only after the corps had passed through Mars-la-Tour 
could the Guard Corps commence its march. This corps, 
because of the difficult terrain which it had to pass on the 
route laid down for it in orders in going to Doncourt, re- 
mained in march columns. The Xth Army Corps followed 
at 10:00 A.M. and conducted its march in massed divisions. 

The army did not gain ground under these conditions 
as rapidly as was the intention of the commander-in-chief. 

At that time, about 10 :00 A.M., the corps were at the 
following points : 

1. The Xllth Army Corps at Jarny.f 

2. The Guard Corps on the march to Doncourt. 

3. The IXth Army Corps at Caulre Farm, outposts to 
the line Bois des Genivaux — Verneville — Bois Doseuillons. 

4. The Xth Army Corps and the 5th Cavalry Division 
at Mars-la-Tour — Tronville. 

5. The Hid Army Corps and the 8th Cavalry Division 
at Vionville. 

6. The lid Army Corps on the march from Pont-a- 
Mousson to Buxieres. 

From these positions commenced the turn to the right 
of the army, executed for the present by the IXth and the 
Guard Corps. 

At the same time, knowledge of the situation and in- 
tentions of the enemy made rapid progress. 

*The Corps artillery had to go around west of Mars-la-Tour. 

fThe advance guard on the march along both banks of the Orne, 
the cavalry division was on the march from Parfondrupt to Puxe, 
having left back one regiment to scout west and towards Verdun. 


Operations Second German Army 

Slightly wounded of the 16th Infantry Regiment had 
arrived from Doncourt sent by the Xth Army Corps ; these 
wounded had been taken prisoner by the French on Au- 
gust 16th and brought to Doncourt. They stated that en 
the morning of August 17th the French had evacuated 
Doncourt in haste, leaving them behind, and had departed 
for Metz. Shortly thereafter another report arrived from 
the army headquarters officer observing the enemy at the 
Bois des Ognons, reading: 

"Point of forest opposite Gravelotte, 10 :20 A.M. The 
camp entirely changed by now. The largest portion of 
the troops has withdrawn towards both sides without my 
being able to determine the definite march directions. Half- 
way up the slope where headquarters was, a defensive 
position has been taken. The right wing of that position 
cannot be seen because covered by woods. At this time 
much troop movement toward the north and some fire by 

For better explanation a sketch of the French posi- 
tion on the heights of le Point-du-Jour was appended. 

Soon followed reports from the advancing corps, the 
first coming from the Guard Corps at Doncourt, dated 
10:20 A.M.: 

"The leading elements of the Guard Corps just now- 
arrived at Doncourt ; the corps will take position there and 
await further orders.* Our patrols sent out in direction 
of Ste. Marie on the road to Briey, have not reported any- 
thing of the enemy." 

Almost the same time a report came from the IXth 
Army Corps which had reached that corps from the ad- 
vanced troops of the 25th Infantry Division and read : 

"Hill near Batilly, 10 :25 A.M. Hostile patrols on the 
heights Ste. Marie — Amanvillers, troops marching on main 
read, camp at St. Privat — hostile patrols advancing at the 

Headquarters of the IXth Army Corps sent this report 
to Caulre Farm at 11:00 A.M. 

*In the meantime, as we know, at 10:15 A.M., orders had been 
sent to the corps to continue the march on Verneville. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

Almost simultaneously with these important messages 
came another order from General Headquarters, reading : 

"According to reports received we are justified in as- 
suming that the enemy intends to make a stand on the pla- 
teau between Le Point-du-Jour and Montigny-la-Grange. 

"4 hostile battalions advanced into the Genivaux woods. 

"His Majesty holds the view that it would be well to 
start the Xllth and the Guard Corps in the direction of 
Batilly so as to strike the enemy at Ste. Marie-aux-Chenes 
in case he marches on Briey, and to attack him from Aman- 
villers if he remains on the heights. 

"The attack should be made simultaneously with the 
First Army from the Bois de Vaux and Gravelotte, by the 
IXth Corps against the Bois des Genivaux and Verneville, 
by the left wing of the Second Army from the north. — 
10:30 A.M. 


The assumptions of General Headquarters in these 
orders concerning the enemy, were in complete consonance 
with the views held by army headquarters. The patrols 
sent out by the Guard Corps towards the main road from 
Briey had not found any enemy. The XHth Corps, which 
we knew still had its main body at Jarny, would undoubt- 
edly have detected, through its cavalry, those portions of 
the French forces that had marched off on the 17th to- 
wards the northwest or west and would have reported 
that fact. 

Now all the instructions concerning the Second Army 
could be carried out, even more decisively than those issued 
at 10:00 and 10:15 A.M., against one objective — the enemy 
on the heights immediately west of Metz — with all forces 
to beat that enemy decisively. All doubts had been dis- 
persed. It now also appeared no longer necessary to keep 
forces in readiness towards other directions as had been 
done heretofore. 

The general conception we now had of the French posi- 
tion, on which the new dispositions were based, was but 
little changed from the one previously held. 


Operations Second German Army 

Orders from General Headquarters assumed Montigny- 
la-Grange to be the right wing of the French position. The 
possibihty that the enemy would even now attempt to 
march from that position to Briey had been considered. 

The IXth Army Corps had reported that a hostile camp 
was also at St. Privat. Of course, this report had not 
yet been confirmed by other reports,* and it contained no 
intimation whether the troops discovered there formed a 
body of some tactical importance or were merely a detach- 

Because of these conditions the commander-in-chief 
decided to send now the Xllth Corps, following the right 
turn of the Second Army, as far north on the Metz — 
Woippy — Briey road as practicable. He combined here- 
with his intention to extend the envelopment of the hostile 
right wing with detachments at least to within the Mo- 
selle valley. They lay at that time the last assured con- 
nection of Bazaine's army with France. 

Complying with orders from General Headquarters, 
the Guard Corps was to march with the Xllth Army Corps 
toward Batilly. But as Prince Frederick Charles had, by 
his orders of 10:15 A.M., sent the corps in the meantime 
at first against Verneville, he now directed that it should 
march from there, by making a left turn while on the march, 
without delay to Amanvillers and to then execute in a south- 
erly direction its enveloping attack against the hostile flank. 
In order to support this attack if necessary, — for which 
there was little room left on the narrow plateau of Montigny 
— the Xllth Army Corps w^as near enough, even if it was 
assigned to the Metz — Briey road towards Ste. Marie.f 

*The IXth Corps reported between 11:00 and 12:00 o'clock: 

At Caulre Farm, 10:45 A.M. 

"A French laborer, living in Saargemiind and coming from Con- 
flans states: Last Monday and Tuesday some French cavalry regi- 
ments, some infantry and artillery coming from Metz reached Con- 
flans, and marched off Wednesday in direction of Briey. 

"Our patrols report: Jouaville is not occupied, according to state- 
ments of inhabitants; masses of troops are north thereof. Have sent 
reconnoitering patrols to St. Frivat-la-Montagne and Ste. Marie-aux- 
Chenes. It has been further reported that cavalry and artillery is 
northeast of Verneville." 

fThe shortest distance from Ste. Marie to Amanvillers was 5500 


Campaign of 1870-71 

It now appeared high time to bring the corps of the 
second line, the Xth, Illd and lid nearer to the corps that 
were to make the attack and to so place them that they 
would be at hand to support the advance in front, the same 
as the Xllth Corps was available to support the flank at- 

At 11:30 o'clock Prince Frederick Charles then issued 
the following orders : 

1. To the Xllth Royal Saxon Army Corps : 

"The Xllth Army Corps is hereby directed to march 
on Ste. Marie-aux-Chenes, to secure by cavalry against 
Briey and beyond Conflans, and to send cavalry into the 
Moselle valley to interrupt the telegraph and railroad lead- 
ing to Thionville. 

'The Vllth, Vlllth, IXth and Guard Corps will within 
2 hours attack the enemy, who is in position on the heights 
of Leipzig as far as the Bois de Vaux, rear towards Metz.* 

'The Illd, Xth and Xllth, and also the lid Corps will 
follow in second line in support." 

2. To the Guard Corps : 

'The enemy appears to be in position for battle on the 
ridge from the Bois de Vaux to beyond Leipzig. The Guard 
Corps will hasten its advance via Verneville, proceed as far 
as Amanvillers and from there make a serious attack against 
the hostile right wing. 

"The IXth Corps will simultaneously attack La Folie. 

"The Guard Corps may take the road via Habonville. 
The Xllth Corps proceeds to Ste, Marie," 

3. To the IXth Army Corps: 

'The Guard Corps has now been directed to march via 
Verneville to Amanvillers and from there eventually to 
attack the hostile right wing. A serious engagement of 
the IXth Corps, in case the hostile right wing extends far- 
ther north, should be delayed until the Guard Corps attacks 
from Amanvillers. The troops will probably have sufficient 
time to cook coffee." 

*At 9:30 A.M. the chief of staff of the First Army had arrived 
at the place where Prince Frederick Charles was and had oriented 
him concerning conditions of the First Army. 


Operations Second German Army 

In addition, at 12 noon orders were issued to the Xth 
and lid Corps : 

4. To the Xth Army Corps : 

"The enemy is in position from Leipzic to the Bois de 
Vaux. He will be attacked there today — 

by the Guard Corps from Amanvillers, 

by the IXth Corps from La Folie, 

by the Vllth and Vlllth Corps in front. 

"In second line follow in support: 

the Xlllth Corps on Ste. Marie, 
the Xth Corps on St. Ail, 
the Illd Corps on Verneville, 
the lid Corps on Rezonville." 

5. To the Ild Army Corps : 

"The lid Army Corps will march from Buxieres on 
Rezonville, as reserve for the right wing. The First and 
Second Army will today attack the enemy in his positions 
this side of Metz. 

"There will be time to cook meals, special haste to 
reach Rezonville is not necessary. The Saxon cavalry covers 
toward Verdun." 

Events took a rapid course shortly after these orders 
were issued. 

The first cannon shots were fired about noon in the 
vicinity of Verneville. There the IXth Army Corps en- 
tered the battle. It had started from Caulre Farm at about 
10 :30 A.M. Its advance guard, directed by way of Verne- 
ville towards La Folie, became engaged at Chantrenne. The 
mass of its artillery* deployed northeast of Verneville 
against advancing French infantry and troops camping on 
the heights of Amanvillers and Montigny-la-Grange ; the 
farm buildings of Champenois, occupied by the enemy, 
was in front. The commanding general pushed the left 
wing of the fighting line almost to the foremost corner of 
the Bois de la Cusse. The German shells hit the French 
camp by surprise. However, the enemy soon replied to that 

*The artillery of the 18th Infantry Division and the corps 
artillery. The artillery of the 25th (Grand Ducal Hessian) Division 
soon thereafter entered the battle. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

fire not only from the hills of Amanvillers — Montigny-la- 
Grange, but also from the line St. Privat — Amanvillers. A 
further extension of the hostile front via Amanvillers north- 
ward could then be seen. 

The French infantry opened fire simultaneously with 
guns and machine guns at long range and rained a hail 
of projectiles on the batteries of the IXth Army Corps. This 
corps, to protect its artillery, brought up its main body 
(infantry) which thus became engaged in the battle. 

Thus, the course of events took on a far more serious 
aspect than had originally been intended. 

After the opening of the battle — about 12 :30 noon — 
Prince Frederick Charles issued orders also to the Illd 
Army Corps to start and then proceed to the vicinity of 
Verneville, where he took his position at 1 :45 on the hill west 
of the village. Events with the IXth Army Corps became 
important to Second Army headquarters. 

Even before the receipt of the orders issued by Prince 
Frederick Charles at 11:30 A.M., the Guard and the Xllth 
Army Corps had arrived at independent decisions that were 
entirely in consonance with those orders. Prince Fred- 
erick Charles received information thereof during his ride 
to Verneville. The Guard Corps reported: 

"Doncourt, 18 August 1870; 11:30 A.M. According 
to a report from the cavalry sent ahead, from the Hill at 
Batilly, 10:50 A.M., people just coming from Ste. Marie 
bring the information that French Infantry is there, and 
that many French troops are at St. Privat-la-Montagne. 
Consequently the Guard Corps will, according to orders 
received,* start immediately for Doncourt, but the corps 
commander believes, under these conditions, it is best to 
march not to Verneville, but to Habonville. 

"Notification hereof has been sent to the Xllth Army 

The report from the Xllth Corps read : 

* Which means, the orders issued by army headquarters at 10:15 
A.M., for the orders of 11:30 A.M. had not yet been received by the 
Guard Corps at the time this report was sent. 


Operations Second German Army 

"Jarny, August 18, 1870, 11:45 A.M. The enemy is 
reported to be at Moineville and Ste. Marie-aux-Chenes. 
Therefore the Xllth Corps will proceed towards both points. 
Flank guard towards Valleroy." 

In the orders of 11 :30 A.M. the Guard Corps had been 
given discretion as to marching via Habonville* — and Ste. 
Marie had been assigned to the Xllth Army Corps. There- 
fore no new orders were required from army headquarters. 

The Guard Corps sent additional reports from Don- 
court at 12:00 noon as to its further observations of the 
enemy. It transmitted a report received from one of its 
cavalry patrols reading: 

"One Saxon cavalry patrol encountered French cavalry 
— 10 troopers — at St. Ail. Just now some shots were fired 
on the road from Amanvillers to Verneville.f It appears 
that cavalry is being sent forward from St. Privat, about 
two squadrons, and about 1^ companies of infantry in 
smaller detachments against Habonville and St. Ail 

"2 companies of French infantry are marching on Ste. 
Marie. A camp is between Ste. Marie and St. Privat which 
appears now to be taken down." 

This report was dated "Hill at Batilly, 11:30 A.M." 

Through one of his staff officers, who rode around 
the village of Verneville, the commander-in-chief learned 
that French batteries were in action immediately north of 
Amanvillers but that a further view north towards St. Pri- 
vat was cut off by the Bois de la Cusse. Only a church 
steeple could be seen of Amanvillers which was behind a 

*The Guard Corps had marched on Habonville only with the 1st 
Guard Infantry Division and the corps artillery. The 2d Guard In- 
fantry Division, which debouched from the first northern march direc- 
tion at Bruville, marched from there via St. Marcel and Caulre Farm 
on Verneville. During this march the commander-in-chief saw it; he 
was just then riding to Verneville and he gave it the march direction 
to Habonville. 

fSaxon cavalry patrols had encountered weak hostile detach- 
ments at Batilly, Moineville and Valleroy, which departed in haste. 
Later, at 12:30 P.M. Ste. Marie was found unoccupied and it was 
observed from that place that strong hostile forces stood on the heights 
of St. Privat. Briey was found free of the enemy at 11:00 A.M. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

In the meantime, at about 2:00 P.M. the commander- 
in-chief had sent orders to the Guard Corps artillery to ad- 
vance at the trot* and to go into position alongside of, but 
not in direct prolongation of, the artillery line of the IXth 
Army Corps. 

At 2:05 P.M. the Xth Army Corps reported that it had 
arrived at Jouaville, and in reply thereto it received direc- 
tions to march on St. Privat, its artillery in front. 

Thus, sufficient forces could be deployed against the 
French wing extending to beyond Amanvillers. 

Three corps of the Second Army — the Guard, Xth and 
Xllth, were available therefor and were on the advance, 
while the entire Illd Army Corps was still available as re- 
serve for the IXth Corps — where the battle had increased 
in intensity by now. 

Shortly after 2:00 P.M. Prince Frederick Charles pro- 
ceeded via Anoux-la-Grange to the vicinity west of Habon- 
ville, to be closer to the important, and not yet solved, ques- 
tion in regard to the location of the French right wing. 
From the hill at Habonville the strong French positions 
at St. Privat could be seen. The picture of the French 
battle position changed materially. 

At his second location Prince Frederick Charles re- 
ceived new orders from General Headquarters. These 
orders, dated on the hill south of Flavigny, 1 :45 P.M. con- 
tained the following directions: 

"The IXth Army Corps is already engaged in an artil- 
lery fight in front of the Bois Doseuillons. The actual gen- 
eral attack along the entire line will not be started until 
material fighting forces can advance from Amanvillers." 

It was clear that at that moment events at the IXth 
Army Corps had developed so far that that corps could 
no longer be instructed to maintain a waiting attitude. In 
that corps only, contact with the enemy could regulate 
the conduct of the troops. 

''The same orders were sent to that artillery by the Guard Corps. 


Operations Second German Army 

On the other hand, the Guard Corps, which reached 
the vicinity of Habonville at 1 :00 P.M.,* was completely 
free and not bound by any engagement. It now received 
orders: — "to conduct the fight only by artillery and to in- 
sert the infantry only when the Xllth Corps could par- 
ticipate in the action effectively." 

Now, when it was seen that the French position ex- 
tended to beyond St. Privatf and when its extraordinary 
strength was also noted, it appeared important that the 
attack of the Guard and the Xllth Corps, as well also as 
that of the Xth Army Corps if necessary, be made simul- 
taneously; there was room here therefor and large masses 
could be employed. 

Of course with the greater frontal extension of the ene- 
my, the instructions to the different corps changed. 

The Guard Corps, heretofore designated to envelop 
the hostile right wing, had now to prolong the German 
front opposite the French. Only the Xllth Corps remained 
for the enveloping movement. By inserting the Xth Corps 
between these two corps the movement of course could be 
made easier and supported. 

A meeting between Prince Frederick Charles and the 
commanding general of the Guard Corps gave an oppor- 
tunity to make the latter acquainted with the intentions 
of General Headquarters and those of army headquarters. 

Before we narrate the further course of events, it ap- 
pears well to briefly repeat in what situation the different 
corps found themselves between 2 and 3 o'clock. 

1. The IXth Army Corps was engaged in battle against 
the hostile center at Amanvillers — La Folie.J 

2. The Guard Corps assembled at St. Ail and Habon- 
ville (the 2d Guard Infantry Division there rejoined the 
corps by 2:45 P.M.). 

*The advance guard had arrived there between 12 and 1 o'clock. 

fAs is now known, that position extended even farther, to Don- 
court, but that fact could not be perceived from Habonville. 

Jin the front of the artillery line of that corps the enemy held 
out until about 3:00 P.M. at the Champenois Farm. That place was 
stormed at 3:00 P.M. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

The mass of the artillery of that corps was in action 
southwest of St. Ail, its left wing at that village, and firing 
at effective range on the hostile positions at St. Privat. 
The hostile fighting line, clearly marked by powder smoke, 
had prolonged itself up to this point. 

St. Ail was held by the corps, and the advance guard 
of the 1st Guard Infantry Division turned against Ste. 
Marie-aux-Chenes to which point the enemy had pushed 
portions of his right wing at about 12 :00 noon. 

3. The Xllth (Royal Saxon) Army Corps was on the 
march against the line Ste. Marie — Moineville. Its columns 
could be seen north of Batilly. 

4. The Illd Army Corps had arrived at Verneville. 

5. The Xth Army Corps commenced to arrive at Batilly 
at 2 :00 P.M. and for the present halted there. 

6. Since the same hour the lid Corps was marching 
with the 3d Infantry Division and the corps artillery from 
Buxieres, with the 4th Infantry Division from Onville* 
towards Rezonville. 

Now, in the start, a fight ensued around the village of 
Ste. Marie, which the enemy, as just stated, held in his 
front. There the left wing of the Guard Corps was seen 
engaged ; this could plainly be seen from the location of 
the commander-in-chief. In addition, Saxon batteries were 
seen firing on Ste. Marie from the edge of the ravine run- 
ning from Habonville down to Auboue.f 

Both corps reported the measures they were about 
to take. The Guard Corps reported : — "In rear of St. Ail, 
18 August 1870, 2:00 P.M.— The infantry of the advance 
guard of the Guard Corps is engaged in and around St. 

*The division had halted at Onville, as at Buxieres, as orders 
from Second Army Headquarters directed it, but there was no water 
for cooking. But the 4th Infantry Division was not able to cook at 
all, as it soon had to resume the march. 

fSince 2:30 P.M. the Saxon artillery had prepared the attack 
on Ste. Marie. West of the ravine stood nine, east thereof 4 bat- 
teries with the right wing on the St. Ail — Ste. Marie road. At 
Headquarters of the Second Army doubt reigned for a long time con- 
cerning the fire of those batteries and whether or not it would not 
endanger the Guard Corps, which appeared to have already entered 
the village. Officers sent out cleared up the situation. 


Operations Second German Army 

Ail towards Ste. Marie, which is strongly held by French 
infantry. The corps artillery on the right is firing on St. 
Privat. The main body of the 1st Guard Division also 
advances on St. Ail. The 2d Guard Division, now arrived 
at Habonville, will advance. The Xllth Corps is approach- 
ing Ste. Marie, but is not yet close to it."* 
The report from the Xllth Corps read : 
"Batilly, 18 August 1870, 2:30 P.M.— The Saxon Army 
Corps is advancing with the 24th Infantry Division on Ste. 
Marie-aux-Chenes, and with the 23d Infantry Division en- 
velops the French right wing at Joinville and the woods sit- 
uated between there and Roncourt. 


The Crown Prince of Saxony, arrived at Batilly, had 
observed the extension of the hostile position north of St. 
Privat to Roncourt, and had also observed its strength in 
front, and he had consequently taken his measures indepen- 
dently. From the location of the commander-in-chief at 
Habonville only the French lines as far as St. Privat could 
be seen. There, as stated, it was believed the French right 
wing would be found. The measures taken by the Crown 
Prince of Saxony were the first intimation army head- 
quarters had that that wing extended farther to the north. 

The report from the Xllth Corps reached army head- 
quarters about 3:30 P.M. 

In the meantime the fight around Ste. Marie had taken 
a rapid course ; the village was soon taken by troops of both 
the corps engaged. f 

Army headquarters received the following short re- 
port thereof: 

"Ste. Marie-aux-Chenes has been taken, 3 :30 P.M. 
Losses immaterial. 18-8-70. 

VON Pape.J 

*This had happened however by the time the report was re- 

t48th Infantry Brigade and advance guard of the Guard Corps. 
Jvon Pape was commander of the 1st Guard Infantry Division. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

As soon as this report reached Army Headquarters, 
Prince Frederick Charles wrote to the Crown Prince of 
Saxony : 

"18 August, 3:45 P.M., at Habonville. I call the at- 
tention of Your Royal Highness to the fact that the only 
connection of the French field army with Paris lies in 
the Moselle valley on the left bank. 

"It is therefore of the utmost importance for the de- 
cision of the campaign that you send cavalry as soon as 
possible to thoroughly destroy the telegraph line and rail- 
road from Metz to Thionville and, if possible, occupy the 
Moselle valley. 

Frederick Charles." 

"P.S. Everything goes well so far, thanks to the Lord." 
The capture of Ste. Marie was a single phase, preced- 
ing the decision on the hostile right wing.* For the pres- 
ent the artillery continued the battle there. The Saxon 
batteries appeared in a second position north, of Ste. Marie- 
aux-Chenes and reopened fire there. f 

The long artillery line of the Guard Corps, by that 
time reinforced to 72 pieces, J advanced at 4:00 P.M. from 
its position at Habonville — St. Ail towards St. Privat-la- 
Montagne. In a heavy cannonade the hostile batteries suc- 
cumbed after a short time. The French artillery was not 
able to hold its position either opposite the Guard or the 
IXth Corps. Between 4:00 and 5:00 P.M. the hostile artil- 
lery was silent along the entire line from St. Privat to Mon- 

*At 11:30 A.M. Ste. Marie had been found unoccupied by a staff 
office!' from Xllth Army Corps headquarters. Shortly thereafter the 
6th French Corps sent the 94th Regiment of the line to that point. 

t66 guns went into position there, 6 others also participated in 
the action there temporarily. 

JFive batteries of the corps artillery, 4 of the 1st Guard Infantry 
Division, 3 of the 2d Guard Infantry Division. 2 of the Guard 
Cavalry Division arrived later, so that then 84 pieces were in action. 

§As has been stated, the extreme right of the French artillery 
line that was then still in action at Roncourt could not be seen from 
the position of Second Army Headquarters. 

Operations Second German Army 

The decisive hours of the battle appeared to have 
arrived and a general attack seemed to be well prepared. 

Corresponding to the intentions of His Majesty the 
King, the commanding general of the Guard Corps, Prince 
August of Wiirttemberg, had halted with a further in- 
fantry attack after having taken Ste. Marie. The envelop- 
ment of the hostile right wing by the Xllth Army Corps 
was to first become effective. Now, however, he changed his 
estimate of the situation very decidedly. 

The Xllth Army Corps had not only learned through 
its reconnaissance that the extension of the hostile position 
reached to north of Roncourt, but it had even been re- 
ported* that Montois-la-Montagne was also occupied by 
the French. Consequently the Crown Prince of Saxony 
reinforced the 23d Infantry Division which enveloped the 
French right wing with an infantry brigade and the avail- 
able cavalry. t If that envelopment was to be made as un- 
observed by the enemy as possible and with assured ex- 
pectation of success, it had to be made under protection of 
the steep ridge west of Montois, in the Orne valley, passing 
Joeuf . By this route, H.R.H. Prince George of Saxony pro- 
ceeded with the 23d Infantry Division, and the above men- 
tioned reenforcements. 

Thus, it of course took a longer time than had' been 
assumed before the envelopment could become effective. 
About at 5:00 P.M., that is, after the fire of the hostile 
batteries between St. Privat and Amanvillers had already 
been silenced, the enveloping columns of the Xllth Army 
Corps found themselves with their leading elements in line 
with Hautmecourt.J 

*By cavalry patrols of the Guard Corps. 

fThe 48th Infantry Brigade and the 2d Cavalry Regiment of the 
24th Infantry Division, Guard and 3d Cavalry Regiment with the 
1st Horse Battery of the 12th Cavalry Division. The commander of 
the 23d Infantry Division (Prince George of Saxony) assigned that 
road to the reinforcements sent him. 

JThe different units of the Xllth Army Corps were at 5:30 P.M. 
at the following points: 

1. The 47th Infantry Brigade, which formed the pivot of the 
movement, at Ste. Marie-aux-Chenes. After the capture of that 
place this brigade had pushed to beyond the place but had then to 
be taken back. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

Three hours could yet be counted on for the action until 
darkness set in. It therefore became questionable if it 
would still be possible to carry out the intended combined 
attack. Any attack commencing too late might eas- 
ily be without success. The approach of darkness would 
undoubtedly increase the defender's energy, and it precluded 
any pursuit. The silence of the hostile batteries appeared 
to indicate a most favorable opportunity for the attack; in 
an hour and a half to two hours the situation could easily be 
an entirely different one. The condition of the battle on 
the other portions of the battlefield made it very desirable 
to commence the attack against the hostile right wing. 
Troops could be seen moving on the heights of St. Privat. 
It appeared as if new masses were marching to the vicinity 
of Amanvillers — Montigny-la-Grange. And still the com- 
mander-in-chief had to send the 3d Guard Infantry Bri- 
gade* to the support of the IXth Army Corps, which bri- 
gade he had held at his disposal for special purposes. And 
the corps artillery of the Hid Corps was already supporting 
the battle there, by orders of the Prince. It had gone into 
position between Vemeville and the Bois des Genivaux. But 
in spite of all this the situation was precarious. 

But there was no doubt whatever that the interference 
of the Xllth Army Corps would become effective in the 
course of the attack against St. Privat, even if not at the 
opening of that attack. Therefore in executing an attack 
now all ready on St. Privat, participation of the Xllth Corps 
was assuredly reckoned with. 

2. The 45th Infantry Brigade was in the woods west of Roncourt, 
engaged against the French advance troops of the right wing, and 
also in rear of those woods. 

3. The 48th Infantry Brigade and the available cavalry (13 
squadrons) and four batteries on the march to Montois, at that time 
their leading elements were south of Hautmecourt. 

4. The 46th Infantry Brigade with one battery marching from 
Moineville to Coinville. 

5. The corps artillery, reinforced by the 2d Foot battalion (11 
batteries) under protection of one squadron north of Ste. Marie in 
action against Roncourt. 

6. 1 battalion, 10 squadrons detached on different duties. 
*7 battalions, 1 pioneer company, 1 battery. 


Operations Second German Army 

The commanding general of the Guard Corps decided 
to attack St. Privat, and Prince Frederick Charles gave his 

At that time the Prince could not see what forced the 
Xllth Army Corps to n?ake such an extended turn. The Sax- 
on batteries were in their positions north of Ste. Marie- 
aux-Chenes, without army headquarters being able to dis- 
cern the target they fired on.* It almost appeared as 
if the corps had become engaged with a new enemy ap- 
pearing on its left flank, who prevented it from getting to 
the enemy's right flank. 

However, His Royal Highness held the opinion that the 
battle \vould have to be decided in any case on August 18. 
It appeared impossible, after such enormous sacrifices, 
as had been bought, to delay the decision till the fol- 
lowing day. If we left the enemy in his positions this 
evening, he would have had it in his power to get to under- 
neath the guns of Metz by a very short march during the 
night. In that fortress was an army that was almost in- 
tact and that could greatly increase the difficulties of the 
German leadership. 

Regard of our own troops came also into the fore- 
ground. The series of bloody battles commenced on Au- 
gust 14th, simply had to come to an end. 

About 5:30 P.M. the Guard Corps started the attack 
on St. Privat-la-Montagne with the 1st Guard Infantry 
Division across the Ste. Marie — St. Privat road, with the 
4th Guard Infantry Brigadef from the vicinity of Habon- 
ville. The village, situated on a bare hill and composed 
of large buildings, formed the attack objective for the ad- 
vancing masses. 

*These were the 66 Saxon guns which fired on Roncourt and 
from their right wing also on St. Privat. 

As a matter of fact the Saxon artillery (11 batteries) ad- 
vanced at that time by echelons toward Roncourt, a movement which, 
under continuous fire, could not be seen from Habonville. 5 bat- 
teries of the Xllth Army Corps participated in the envelopment. 

fThe 4th Guard Infantry Brigade started about fifteen min- 
utes earlier than the 1st Guard Infantry Division. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

Under a murderous fire the battalions ascended the 
gradual slope up the height, which fell like a glacis down 
toward the line Ste. Marie — St. Ail and Habonville. Only 
here and there a few depressions in the terrain offered some 
minor protection. 

The closer the position was approached the plainer its 
great strength was seen. In regard to utilizing the fire 
effect, the enemy was in a situation that could not have 
been more favorable in any campaign. He had arranged 
his position in haste and with the usual adeptness that he 
had showed throughout the last campaign. The walls were 
loop-holed and the ridge covered with trenches. And the 
defending troops were found to be far less shaken than 
had been assumed. The preparatory fire of the Guard bat- 
teries had taken the French batteries for their objective 
and that artillery duel had taken the entire attention of 
our batteries. The village of St. Privat itself and its de- 
fenders had suffered but little from that artillery fire. The 
garrison was still in its positions with fresh forces. 

The losses of the bravely attacking Guards soon be- 
came enormous. The roads the attackers took were marked 
by numerous dead and wounded. 

The attack became bloodier and more dangerous, until 
it finally came to a halt. But with the excellent discipline 
inherent in these troops, it became possible to hold them 
opposite the enemy. 

Thus the way was shortened for the next shock. 

During this bloody fighting the Xllth Army Corps con- 
tinued its route. After very heavy marching its left 
(the 48th Infantry Brigade) acended the ridge at Mon- 
tois-la-Montagne at about 6:00 P.M. This village was 
found to be free of the enemy.* Now started the envelop- 
ing attack on Roncourt. 

During the course of the envelopment the 45th In- 
fantry Brigade, in the front line, had driven hostile ad- 

*One battalion of the 23d Infantry Division posted at the north- 
east corner of the woods between Auboue and Montois had conducted 
a firefight at long range with French troops in Montagne between 
5:00 and 6:00 P.M. 


Operations Second German Army 

vanced troops from the woods between Auboue and Ron- 
court and awaited the appearance of the 48th Infantry 
Brigade at Montois. It now also marched out into the 
open and pushed back in a continuous advance the hostile 
skirmish lines that were in front of Roncourt. In the vil- 
lage itself, where the leading elements of both brigades 
met, no fighting ensued.* The fire of the artillery ad- 
vancing simultaneously with the infantry had already had 
such an effect on the enemy's troops as to cause them to 
leave the village. Shortly before 6:30 P.M. the village 
was occupied by the Xllth Corps which now deployed strong 
forces from the north against St. Privat.f The moment 
for the decision had arrived. 

Prince Frederick Charles had issued instructions to 
the Xth Army Corps, whose commanding general had ar- 
rived at Habonville between 4 :45 and 5 :00 P.M. to receive 
verbal orders, to support the advance- of the Guard Corps. 

The Xth Army Corps now started from Batilly towards 
St. Ail and first sent the horse batteries of its corps artil- 
lery to the first support of the Guard Corps. The com- 
bined attack of portions of all three corps of the German 
left wing on St. Privat was now carried out, materially pre- 
pared by the earlier advance of the Guard Corps. $ 

The artillery of the Guard Corps, that had, as narrated, 
been entirely employed up to the first charge in fight- 
ing the hostile batteries, now directed its full activity 
against St. Privat. 

From the place where the commander-in-chief was 
it could be plainly seen that the 4th Guard Infantry Bri- 

*The 45th and 48th Infantry Brigades and the entire artillery 
approached the village to within 1200 paces. 

fEven before reaching the ridge of Roncourt, single infantry 
regiments had executed the turn to the right and as Roncourt was 
being attacked, advanced at the same time, independently against St. 

{The attack of the Guard had simultaneously the effect on the 
attack of the Xllth Army Corps in that it induced the French 6th 
Corps, Canrobert, in position on the French right, to concentrate 
its forces at St. Privat for defense, and to thereby weaken its troops 
at Roncourt and thus it materially facilitated the attack of the 
Xllth Corps in its decisive chai'ge against the enemy's flank. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

gade had started another attack. On the ridge south of the 
village runs a road fringed on one side with a high hedge. 
Viewed from Habonville, and judging the terrain from 
the map, this hedge gives the impression as if we had the 
edge of the woods of the high left edge of the Moselle val- 
ley in our front. There the charging battalions now dis- 
appeared, while it was at the same time seen that the right 
wing of the 1st Guard Infantry Division also commenced 
to ascend the hill immediately at the village. Then a dense 
powder smoke hid the battle scene. But the fire of a strong 
artillery line between Roncourt and St. Privat shortly there- 
after indicated the arrival and interference of the Xllth 
Army Corps, 

The victory appeared to have been gained there. Prince 
Frederick Charles now again considered the extension of 
the envelopment of the hostile right wing as far as the Mo- 
selle valley. 

At 6:40 P.M. he wrote to the Crown Prince of Sax- 
ony from the Bois de la Cusse : 

"In spite of the separate charges of the hostile in- 
fantry* it appears the battle has been gained. It is of 
the utmost importance, in spite of the great fatigue of the 
troops, to still advance today with at least one infantry 
brigade of the Xllth Corps to Woippy and there thoroughly 
interrupt the telegraph and railroad line. 

Frederick Charles." 

If the occupation of Woippy could have been accom- 
plished it would have been of the greatest importance, as 
this would have greatly endangered the retreat of the 
French troops fighting on the heights of Amanvillers. The 
charge against and capture of one of the hills crowned by 
a hedge south of St, Privat had been an act preceding 
the capture of the village. 

The Crown Prince of Saxony reported to the comman- 
der-in-chief : 

*These charges took place especially at the Bois de la Cusse 
opposite the IXth Army Corps. 


Operations Second German Army 

"Sent the 18th, 7:10 P.M. The cavalry already has 
received orders to interrupt the railroad at Hagondange and 
Richemont. In addition, cavalry and pioneers on wagons 
have been sent for that same purpose via Briey.* 

"As St. Privat has not yet been taken and as conse- 
quently the road is not yet clear, the brigade will be sent 
by way of Roncourt and Marange to Mezieres. 

Crown Prince, General of Infantry.'''\ 

In the meantime it had become dark and with darkness 
the moment for using the last reserves for the decision. 

Already toward 7:00 P.M. Prince Frederick Charles 
had offered one infantry brigade of the Hid Army Corps 
to General von Manstein as support. At 7:10 P.M. he per- 
mitted the commanding general of that corps, on his re- 
peated requests, to participate with the other three of his 
brigades in the battle on the right of the Bois de la Cusse. 

At 7:15 P.M. he sent orders to the commanding gen- 
eral of the Xth Army Corps to advance according to his 
own views, the Prince adding that he considered it best if 
one division went into action between the Guard and the 
Xllth Corps, the other proceeding as reserve to in rear of 
the left of the IXth Army Corps. 

The Xth Army Corps had in the meantime gotten 
ahead of these orders by participating in the fight around 
St. Privat. 

*At about 4:00 P.M. two squadrons of the 12th Cavalry Division 
started from Auboue, following the Orne valley, towards Richemont 
and the R.R. station at Uckange, about four miles south of Thionville, 
and there late in the evening destroyed the Metz — Thionville railroad 
without having seen anything of the enemy during the march. Many 
obstacles (felled trees) delayed the march and made the advance 
difficult; the troops having to dismount and walk in single file. The 
pioneer detachment sent between 4:00 and 5:00 P.M. to Mercy-le-Bas 
reached the Thionville — Longuyon railroad there at 2:30 in the morn- 
ing after a march of moi'e than 17 miles. Destruction was has- 
tened as signals indicated the near approach of a military train. All 
villages passed on the march were free of the enemy. Details con- 
cerning these expeditions became known to army headquarters of 
course only on the next day. See farther below. 

fAs a matter of fact the Xllth Corps could not start that brigade 
till early in the morning of August 19th. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

In addition, at 6:30 P.M., the lid Army Corps had re- 
ported that its 3d Infantry Division had been ready for par- 
ticipation since 4:00 P.M. and its 4th Division since 6:00 
P.M., and Prince Frederick Charles had directed the corps 
commander to report for orders direct to General Headquar- 
ters. Now, at 7 :20 P.M. the army commander left it to the 
discretion of the corps commander as to also participating 
in the attack according to his views, reporting the fact to 
General Headquarters. 

By this time events had started also in the lid Army 

By this time the army commander had turned his at- 
tention to the IXth Corps engaged in the center, where the 
battle raged variably, and had proceeded to the Bois de la 
Cusse. And at about the same time the last report from the 
Crown Prince of Saxony was dated, he returned to his prior 
standpoint at Habonville. The powder smoke still hid the 
hill of St. Privat. But the decisive victory was soon marked 
by the right turn of the long artillery line of the Guard 
Corps and of the corps artillery of the Xth Army Corps, 
alongside which Saxon batteries then appeared between 
St. Privat and the woods. The flash of some shots gave 
a clear indication of the firing line which now ran almost 
at a right angle to the previous line of batteries. The fire 
was directed against the flank of the French center at Aman- 

The French right wing had not been able to with- 
stand this concentric attack. After a bloody battle the 
Guard and the Xllth Corps entered St. Privat from the 
west, north and south sides. In addition to the corps artil- 
lery of the Xth Corps also the 20th Infantry Division of 
that corps had followed the Guard Corps in support and por- 
tions of that division participated in the fighting in the 
village. Between 7 :30 and 8 :00 P.M. the last resistance 
in the houses and yards was overcome. The columns of the 
enemy fled towards Metz pursued by the fire of the Ger- 


Operations Second German Army 

man batteries.* The left of the Xllth Army Corpsf 
had in the meantime succeeded in taking the edge of the 
woods and also the quarry of Jaumont and pursued the 
enemy to Bronvaux. But the enemy held the edge of the 
forest square across the St. Privat — Saulny road with 
strong forces. French batteries fired from here long after 

When Prince Frederick Charles was firmly convinced 
from the movements of the artillery that the envelopment 
and destruction of the hostile right wing was an accom- 
plished fact, he returned to the IXth Army Corps once 

If success could now be attained by overthrowing the 
center of the enemy at Amanvillers, the results of the day 
would be enormous in spite of the approaching darkness. 

The start of the Guard Corps against St. Privat had 
been the signal for the IXth Corps to start its offensive. At 
that time, as has been stated, the French artillery was al- 
most completely silenced, even opposite the IXth Army 
Corps. The corps commander reported this fact to the army 
commander and also reported that the battle was going well 
and that ground was being gained. J In conjunction with the 
3d Guard Infantry Brigade attached to General von Man- 
stein's corps, the corps now started to charge the heights 
of Amanvillers. But the enemy offered a stubborn resis- 
tance there and even carried on counter-attacks. At the 
same time when Prince Frederick Charles returned for the 
second time to the battlefield of the IXth Corps, the rifle 
fire was very heavy. Only when it was completely dark 
were the folds in the terrain west of Amanvillers taken by 
a bloody charge. On the other hand, at the Bois de Geni- 
vaux the right wing of the IXth Corps did not succeea in 
completely defeating the enemy. There the fight raged at 

*The batteries of the 19th Infantry Division also found oppor- 
tunity here to participate in the fight. 

fBattalions of the 48th Infantry Brigade. 

{Delivered by a staff officer of army headquarters who just 
then was at IXth Corps headquarters. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

a broad clearing in front of Chantrenne. Here also the 
enemy executed counter-attacks, but each one of them was 

As stated, the fight of the IXth Army Corps had been 
supported by the artillery of the Illd Army Corps.* 

After he had received permission to insert the infantry 
of his corps in support. General von Alvensleben was about 
to bring forward the rest of his corps, to bring the offen- 
sive to a decision with as strong forces as possible. But 
reports reaching him from his right flank caused him to 
change his mind. Farther to the right, in front of the 
First Army, the battle had increased in intensity. The 
reports received from there by the Illd Corps, showed that 
the enemy w^as making counter-attacks on his left wing, 
for instance at Moscou — Le Point du Jour, where he di- 
rected his attack also against the Bois des Genivaux. 
Therefore General von Alvensleben stopped the movement 
his corps was then starting in order to save his forces for 
the defense against that attack, if necessary. Before the- 
situation cleared up, the short time remaining before dark- 
ness passed, and the battle ended also in the center. 

On the right wing of the German battle front, where 
the First Army fought since noon against the French 
positions at Le Point du Jour, Moscou and Leipzic, the lid 
Corps had now also entered the battle. 

As it had reported, this corps reached Rezonville in 
the afternoon after a march of twenty miles and had there 
received orders direct from General Headquarters to push 
forward as far as Gravelotte and there support the First 
Army. At the start a portion of its artillery became en- 
gaged there; at the fall of dusk the corps started its in- 
fantry attack against the heights of Point du Jour, after 
having received permission from General Headquarters. 
Thus, the action of this corps falls within the domain of 
events of the First Army. 

*The corps artillery of the Hid Corps, first brought forward, had 
been increased in the course of the battle to ten batteries. 


gade at 7 00P.M. 


on Ausust 18,1870. 
Situation of fhe IX Corps ond the 3 '^'^ Guard Infantry Drigade at 700P.M. 


oil J rrf Guar a InTontry brigade 
A ;X Corpa 
C±) /// Corps 

■^ Front, French Line 

Scale 1:25000 

Operations Second German Army 

The participation of the lid Army Corps had given 
the battle there increased intensity in the last moments, 
which was perceived by the Illd Army Corps, and which 
increased in that corps the expectation of a hostile offen- 
sive and consequently led to the change of decision arrived 

The battle died down in the Second Army by 8 :30 P.M., 
only a few shots were fired here and there. Dense dark- 
ness, pierced only by the glare of burning villages, reigned 
over the battlefield. 

Prince Frederick Charles now issued the following 
orders : 

"On the battlefield, 8 :30 P.M., 18 August 1870. 

"The army corps will bivouac on the terrai'n they were 
at at the conclusion of the battle ; they will send out infantry 
outposts which will connect with neighboring corps, and 
must expect that a desperate enemy may attempt to break 

"Tomorrow morning at 5 o'clock, the chiefs of staff of 
all five corps will be in Caulre on the road to report to the 
commander-in-chief where their corps are and to receive 
further orders. 

"The attention of the Xllth Corps is again called to the 
importance of reaching Woippy. 

"Army headquarters goes to Doncourt for the night. 

Frederick Charles." 

After having issued these orders, Prince Frederick 
Charles and his staff rode to Doncourt. 

The losses of the Second Army in the battle of Au- 
gust 18th amounted to 818 oflficers and 19,759 men killed, 
wounded and missing (1 oflficer, 939 men). Only a small 
portion of the latter had been taken prisoners. Of this 
loss the Second Army had 617 officers and 15,711 men — 
the lid Army Corps included, whose losses on the battle- 
field of the First Army were 45 oflflcers and 1311 men. The 
Guard lost about one-half of the total, 288 ofllicers and 7831 
men. 2 guns of the IXth Army Corps had fallen into the 


Operations Second German Army 

The participation of the lid Army Corps had given 
the battle there increased intensity in the last moments, 
which was perceived by the Hid Army Corps, and which 
increased in that corps the expectation of a hostile offen- 
sive and consequently led to the change of decision arrived 

The battle died down in the Second Army by 8 :30 P.M., 
only a few shots were fired here and there. Dense dark- 
ness, pierced only by the glare of burning villages, reigned 
over the battlefield. 

Prince Frederick Charles now issued the following 
orders : 

"On the battlefield, 8 :30 P.M., 18 August 1870. 

"The army corps will bivouac on the terrain they were 
at at the conclusion of the battle ; they will send out infantry 
outposts which will connect with neighboring corps, and 
must expect that a desperate enemy may attempt to break 

"Tomorrow morning at 5 o'clock, the chiefs of staff of 
all five corps will be in Caulre on the road to report to the 
commander-in-chief where their corps are and to receive 
further orders. 

"The attention of the Xllth Corps is again called to the 
importance of reaching Woippy. 

"Army headquarters goes to Doncourt for the night. 

Frederick Charles." 

After having issued these orders. Prince Frederick 
Charles and his staff rode to Doncourt. 

The losses of the Second Army in the battle of Au- 
gust 18th amounted to 818 officers and 19,759 men killed, 
wounded and missing (1 officer, 939 men). Only a small 
portion of the latter had been taken prisoners. Of this 
loss the Second Army had 617 oflficers and 15,711 men — 
the lid Army Corps included, whose losses on the battle- 
field of the First Army were 45 officers and 1311 men. The 
Guard lost about one-half of the total, 288 ofllicers and 7831 
men. 2 guns of the IXth Army Corps had fallen into the 


Campaign of 1870-71 

hands of the enemy when the artillery made its advance 
on the Bois de la Cusse. 

But a great success had been attained with these sac- 
rifices, which could be judged as early as the evening of 
August 18th from the unfavorable strategical situation in 
which the hostile army found itself when it was beaten. 
Concerning the estimate of the importance which this vic- 
tory possessed, we shall discuss this matter later. 

The Situation as to Supplies and Communications 
IN Rear of the Second Army at the Be- 
ginning OF THE Investment of Metz 

More and more did considerations of sanitary con- 
ditions and the material well-being of the investing troops 
come into the foreground. Care had to be taken that the 
favorable tactical situation would not be endangered by any 
epidemic. That chances thereof were good, has already 
been mentioned. In the orders issued on the 2d, the com- 
mander-in-chief touched on this matter in his special orders. 
It was directed first of all that all corps within their dis- 
tricts, employ all men off duty to throw earth on the very 
numerous graves. This matter appeared to be specially 
important as since the 21st a change in the weather 
had set in, which became worse and worse by continuous 
rain, which washed away the earth covering the corpses. 
The use of disinfectants, especially within the villages, was 
directed and arrangements made for a sufficient supply. 
The autumn was very cold and steps had to be taken to 
protect the troops from the influence of the cold weather 
by suitable rations and clothing. Generous subsistence 
supplies are always the best means against the spread of 
typhus and similar diseases ; but it is clear that at this time, 
immediately after the battles, the supplies from home could 
be brought up only in small quantities. A single railroad 
line was at the disposition of the army, all roads w^ere 
completely filled with transports of wounded, all available 
vehicles had to be used for that purpose. The supplies in 


Operations Second German Army 

the columns did not reach far ; the system of requisition 
had to help out and the investment measures had started to 
regulate this matter. Definite districts were assigned the 
different corps. However, the results attained soon proved 
very unfavorable, as can easily be imagined, if we consider 
that since August 14th probably more than 400,000 men of 
both armies had operated in the vicinity of Metz. In addi- 
tion the lack of drinking water was sorely felt, especially 
on the plateau on the left bank of the Moselle. Orders had 
been placed for 300 Abissynian pumps, but the arrival of 
these could not be counted on with certainty.* The troops 
still saw themselves forced to bring their drinking water 
from far off. That the quality of the water suffered ma- 
terially thereby is self-evident and extensive police regula- 
tions had to resorted to to avoid blockades and collisions. 
Just as important as subsistence became the matter 
of arrangements for shelter. The tents captured from the 
French came in very handy in many cases, but still that 
was only an exception. Huts constructed from branches 
and straw were insufficient during the raw weather and 
there was no construction material to build regular bar- 
racks; there was an especial lack of roofing material. The 
small supplies of cut boards found in the village were soon 
used up.f Thus many difficulties were encountered here 
though the troops tried to make makeshifts out of sod and 
stones bound with slats. The nature of the ground was very 
unfavorable. The rocky sub-soil in the vicinity of Metz did 
not permit water to seep through and the water remained 
in the upper layer of earth. The crust then, during the 
continuous rains, soon turned into morass in the camps 
which, after good weather set in again, held the dampness 

^September 23d the army had 170 Abissynian pumps; dis- 
tributed as follows: 

lid Army Corps 45 

Illd Army Corps 42 

Xth Army Corps 8 

IXth Army Corps 75 

fLater on army headquarters attempted to help out in this mat- 
ter by requisitioning on the Lorraine Government. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

for a considerable time. As far as room was found in the 
villages, the troops were of course sheltered there. Vil- 
lages and farm buildings, however, were still crowded with 
wounded. Shelter was consequently very scant there. 

The evacuation of the provisional field hospitals in the 
district of the battlefields had been energetically started 
immediately. For this purpose also separate districts were 
designated under special authorities and each district re- 
ceived its own route of evacuation. Special places of as- 
sembly were assigned the wagon parks for transportation 
to the evacuation points, Pont-a-Mousson and Remilly, at 
which places they were instructed to hold a certain number 
of vehicles. Considering the difficulties of connection, especi- 
ally down into the Moselle valley and from down there up, 
considering the shortage and insufficiency of the wagon 
material assembled in all haste at the opening of the cam- 
paign, and considering the extraordinarily large number of 
wounded, all these measures could become effective only 
after a longer lapse of time. 

The influence of the passivity, to which the troops 
were relegated in a certain way, was also far from favor- 
able. Employing the men by labor and fatigue became a 
material requirement for maintaining health. Shifting of 
investing troops from large distances, on the other hand, 
had to be avoided. Due regard to the economic measures 
demanded that troops be left as long as possible within a 
district once assigned them. If we interfered with their 
arrangements once commenced, it could be foreseen that 
these arrangements would never be completed. In the re- 
lief of one unit by another, difference in strengths certainly 
required new detailed dispositions. Frequent changes also 
always weakens the men's interest in the proper arrange- 
ment of shelter in the different localities. 

After the very material losses sustained in the battles 
around Metz, the bringing up and replenishment of supplies 
became of the utmost importance. The difficuties of com- 
munication with home, as existing at that time, were of 
great disadvantage. 

— 438— 

Operations Second German Army 

Information had been received from General Head- 
quarters that steps were being taken on a large scale to re- 
plenish the loss in officers. 

Army headquarters independently took the necessary 
steps without delay to arrange for the replenishment of 
animals from home. In order to also make use in future 
of the temporarily disabled animals, a depot was constructed 
in Pont-a-Mousson and one in Blenod, in which horses 
could be delivered for rest and cure and recuperation from 
the entire army. 

To properly estimate all these conditions it appears 
well to show what shape the communications to the rear 
of the army had taken since August 15th and in what con- 
ditions these were at the commencement of the investment 
of Metz. Though we can consider here only the condi- 
tions of the Second Army from the time of August 15th 
to. 19th, during which time the First and Second armies 
were separated, it must nevertheless be assumed that those 
conditions were just about the same in the First Army. 
The armies had the same difficulties and had to overcome 
the same difficulties. 

Much of course had been gained by opening the Saar- 
briicken — Remilly railroad. But, as the Rhine — Nahe rail- 
road connecting in rear is a single-track road (from Bin- 
gerbriick to Neunkirchen), the army profited on the whole 
only from a single track road, which, besides complicating 
conditions, possessed but small capacity. The difficulties 
of connection between the army and that railroad line are 
easily seen, when considering that each and every road was 
covered with the marching columns of the army. And now, 
in addition, commenced the transportation of the wounded, 
which completely took up all available means. As early 
as August 15th, foreseeing such conditions, it had been di- 
rected that all requisitioned vehicles that became available 
on the arrival of the wagon parks and trains at the 
troops, were to be sent under guard to Remilly. There 
they were to be placed at the disposal of the Lines of Com- 
munications authorities, to augment their means of trans- 


Campaign of 1870-71 

portation. However, it is self evident that under condi- 
tions existing in those days even among the troops, this 
measure could become effective only gradually. To this 
came, that the construction of the connecting line from 
Remilly to Pont-a-Mousson, commenced simultaneously 
(on August 14th) and which was to be carried on energeti- 
cally, fully required all available vehicles and labor forces, 
as had been directed by General Headquarters. 

.Into the midst of these increasing demands now stepped 
the matter of creating the Army of the Meuse, the lines of 
communications conditions of which had to be completely 
separated from those of the Second Army. As early as 
August 20th a start was made in creating a provisional 
but completely independent Line of Communications 
Headquarters of the Army of the Meuse, for which four 
battalions, 2 squadrons of the Line of Communications 
troops were detached, so that Headquarters of the Lines of 
Communications of the Second Army kept only four bat- 
talions and two squadrons of L. of C. troops. Of course, 
four Saxon Landwehr battalions had been promised the 
Second Army in their stead. 

The orders for the investment of Metz in addition pro- 
vided for a detachment of 1 Landwehr battalion and 1 
squadron of Nummer's Division to Pont-a-Mousson as a 
Line of Communications garrison. 

The wagon parks were divided between the two Lines 
of Communications Headquarters and thus the necessary 
and consequent decrease of means of transportation coin- 
cided momentarily with the increase in the demand made 
on the same. As only a very small number of troops were 
then at the disposal of the Lines of Communications head- 
quarters, it was deprived thereby of the possibility of gain- 
ing sufficient means of transportation by requisitions. 
Though the supply of the army was not seriously endan- 
gered by these conditions, this was entirely due to the ex- 
traordinary activity of all officials. 

The troops, on their part, did everything possible to 
help out these bad conditions, by forming, from vehicles 


Operations Second German Army 

that had become superfluous and from army corps parks, 
sections which travelled regularly between the army and 
the principal depot established on the railroad. Those por- 
tions of the First Army that were east of Metz in many 
instances arranged direct communication with Saarlouis. 
They had the longer road to go there, but that road was not 
then taken up by other troops. With the separation of 
the new operations starting westward and against the army 
invested in Metz, it resulted that the First and the Second 
Army were confined completely to the Saarbriicken — Cour- 
celles railroad, and the Third Army and the Army of the 
Meuse to the Weissembourg — Vendenheim — Luneville — 
— Nancy — Frouard railroad,* which made it necessary 
to transfer the location of the General Headquarters of 
the Lines of Communications to Remilly. It had of course 
been ascertained that the railroad depot there was less 
suited for that purpose, because in Remilly, which was a 
minor railroad station without importance, there were but 
few buildings near the station suitable for depots and be- 
cause there was a lack of sidings. But no change could 
be made, as the Courcelles station had to be left to the 
First Army and as Faulquemont, where conditions were 
far more favorable, was too far from the investing army. 
As a line of communications within the district in which 
both armies in front of Metz found themselves, the Cour- 
celles — Ars-sur-Moselle road was first assigned to the First 
Army and the road between Remilly, Corny and Gorze to 
the Second Army. Subsequently all corps stationed on 
the north side of Metz utilized the bridge at Hauconcourt 
and the road via Ennery, Vigy and Colligny for traflSc with 

The formation of the Army of the Meuse also was felt 
in the matter of telegraphic communication, as the detach- 
ment up to then attached to army headquarters was now as- 
signed to the Army of the Meuse. 

*The opening of this railroad as a matter of fact occurred 
on August 23d. 


Campaign of 1870-71 

Until the arrival of the newly organized 5th Telegraph 
detachment (battalion) only the telegraph battalion of the 
First Army remained in front of Metz. But, as stated, 
this fact did not interfere with the rapid construction of 
necessary lines. 


Military Monographs 

No. 18 

The Command of the Third Army Corps at Spich- 
eren and Vionville 

Berlin, 1895 

Translated by 

Harry Bell, 

Master Signal Electrician, 
Army Service Schools 

Fort Leavenworth, Kansas 
March, 1912 

Military Monographs 


No. 18 

The Command of the Third Army Corps at Spich- 
eren and Vionville 

Berlin, 1895 

Translated by 

Harry Bell, 

Master Signal Electrician, 
Army Service Schools 

Fort Leiavenworth, Kansas 
March, 1912 


Headquarters, Third Army Corps, at the 
Battle of Vionville— Mars-Ia-Tour 

At Noon, August 15th, Prince Frederick Charles 

Seeks Permission of Royal Headquarters for 

Crossing the Moselle With the Larger 

Part of His Forces on August 16th 

The following information had been received at Sec- 
ond Army Headquarters by noon, August 15th: 

1. A report of the 2d Dragoon Regiment (belonging to the 6th 
Infantry Division) to the effect that the enemy had drawn his forces 
in part from Metz and that for the past two days strong move- 
ments of troops were taking place toward Paris. 

2. Report of the 6th Cavalry Division: "The field fortifications 
south of Metz have been abandoned by the enemy; a hostile camp 
at Longville and Moulins-les-Metz (southwest of Metz on the left 
bank of the river — the 6th Cavalry Division still being on the right 
bank) was bombarded with 40 shells, upon which the enemy fled 
from the camp in all haste." 

3. From the 5th Cavalry Division: "Early this morning one 
squadron went from Chambley to Mars-la-Tour, received infantry 
fire from Rezonville, and detached one platoon toward Bruville. On 
its return it found Mars-la-Tour occupied, which had not been the 
case on its advance. Hostile infantry detachments, covered by cav- 
alry, were perceived still on the Metz-Etain road. Corny found oc- 
cupied early this morning. Our patrols encountered hostile outposts 
at Gravelotte; much noise of moving wagons on the road to Verdun, 
especially at night." 

This report led Prince Frederick Charles to the con- 
viction that the hostile army was evacuating Metz, and he 
therefore asked permission by wire from Royal Headquar- 
ters to have the Illd, Xllth, Guard and IVth Army Corps 
cross the Moselle on the 16th, the IXth and lid Army Corps 
to close up on them. 

This request crossed on its way an order from Royal 
Headquarters, in which order dispositions were made en- 
tirely in accordance with Prince Frederick William's inten- 


Military Monographs 

Early on August 15th His Majesty the King had pro- 
ceeded with his staff to the battlefields of the 14th. The im- 
pression was soon gained that no hostile troops were in 
force east of Metz. Large clouds of dust were seen rising 
at different points beyond the fortress, which indicated, or 
seemed to indicate, that the French were marching off 
toward the west. In consequence of this a wire was sent 
from the hill at Flavigny at 11:00 a.m. to Headquarters 
Second Army that it was very probable that the French 
were marching in full retreat toward Verdun. All three 
army corps of the right wing (Hd, IXth and Xllth) were 
now placed at the complete disposition of the Second- Army. 

The IIId Army Corps Receives Permission to Con- 
tinue THE March and Crosses the Moselle Dur- 
ing the Night of August 15-16th. 

Based on the above mentioned information and on the 
urgent request of the lid Army Corps, Prince Frederick 
Charles issued orders at 2:00 p.m. in Pont-a-Mousson di- 
recting that army corps to resume its advance. 

The army corps was to start on the 15th in order 
to locate and prepare a crossing over the Moselle, in order 
to reach the main Metz-Verdun road at Mars-la-Tour on 
the following day via the road through Gorze. 

Concerning the Xth Army Corps, the orders contained 
a note that that corps, with its headquarters and one in- 
fantry division, was now in Thiaucourt and would advance 
on the 16th toward Saint Hilaire, that the 5th Cavalry 
corps commander to have the 6th Cavalry Division now 
march behind the IIId Army Corps, and the corps comman- 
der finally was informed that Prince Frederick Charles 
would visit the corps between 5:30 and 7 :00 p.m. that night. 

Thus General v. Alvensleben received a free hand and 
he issued orders at 3 :25 p.m., in Sillegny for the army 
corps to resume its march across the Moselle immediately. 
The 5th Infantry Division was to march via Corny and 
across the bridge at Noveant and reach Gorze and Dornot 
with its leading elements on the 15th. The 6th Infantry 


Ill Corps at Vionville — Mars-la-Tour 

Division was assigned to the crossings at Champey and 
Pont-a-Mousson and was told to reach Pagny, Preny, Ar- 
naville and Bayonville. The 6th Cavahy Division received 
orders to proceed to Pournoy-la-Chetive and vicinity ; the 
corps artillery was to cross the Moselle after the 6th In- 
fantry Division and remain at Vandieres. Pagny was de- 
signated as corps headquarters. 

Pursuant to these orders the army corps, without hav- 
ing fully completed cooking, started towards 6:00 p.m. The 
5th Infantry Division crossed the Moselle on the bridge at 
Noveant which had not been destroyed by the French, 
where it encountered the detachment of the Xth Army 
Corps under Colonel v. Lyncker (2 battalions, 2 squadrons, 
1 battery) . The infantry of the 6th Infantry Division used 
the foot bridge at Champey, which had been repaired, while 
the 2d Dragoon Regiment, the artillery and all vehicles had 
to cross at Pont-a-Mousson. 

In accordance with his promise Prince Frederick 
Charles had sought out his old Brandenburg corps and, 
greeted with cheers by the troops, had arrived at the 6th 
Infantry Division just when it crossed the bridge at Cham- 
pey. At this opportunity his Royal Highness directed the 
division commander Lieut-General v. Ruddenbrock to start 
in good time the next day via Gorze, so as to reach the 
trains of the fleeing enemy. The commander in chief of 
the Second Army gave the enemy greater credit for activity 
than the enemy actually displayed and, as no messages 
w^ere received from the Xth Army Corps or from the 
5th Cavalry Division in the course of the day, which might 
have divulged the actual situation, he arrived at the not 
entirely unjustified belief that the Army of the Rhine was 
engaged in a hurried retreat from Metz toward the Meuse. 

Orders of Headquarters Second Army for 
August 16th 

In consequence of this estimate the orders issued in 
Pont-a-Mousson at 7 :00 p.m., governing the movements 
for the 16th of August directed the movements of the Second 
Army toward the Meuse. It was hoped that, considering 


Military Monographs 

the achievements in marching by the German troops, the 
enemy would be encountered on that stream. 

It is stated in those orders: "The Illd Army Corps, 
as has been heretofore arranged, will cross the Moselle 
below Pont-a-Mousson and, marching via Noveant and 
Gorze, will tomorrow reach the main Metz-Verdun road 
at Mars-la-Tour, or Vionville respectively. If possible, its 
headquarters will be established in Mars-la-Tour. The 6th 
Cavalry Division may be sent ahead from Pagny via Preny 
and Thiaucourt to that road." 

In addition the Xth Army Corps was directed to con- 
tinue its march to the front on the road toward Verdun 
about as far as St. Hilaire-Maizeray and to bring up those 
parts of the corps which were still in the valley of the 

The remaining army corps, which had arrived at their 
designated march objectives on the 15th, received orders 
to start on the 16th as follows : The IXth Army Corps was 
to reach Sillegny, the Xllth Rezonville-en-Haye, the Guard 
Corps Rambucourt and Vernecourt, the IVth Les Saizer- 
ais, the lid Buchy. 

Measures Taken by the Xth Army Corps 

In pursuance of the above directions the Xth Army 
Corps issued the following orders: 

"Headquarters Thiaucourt, 15th August, 1870; 11:30 p.m. 

"The hostile army is marching towards the Meuse. 

"The Xth Army Corps will continue its march toward Verdun. 

"Lieut-General v. Rheinbaben, in front of whom a hostile cav- 
alry division retreated today toward Metz and opposite whom a hos- 
tile camp of all arms is at Rezonville, will advance against the camp 
early tomorrow morning and will at the same time attempt to gain 
a view of the Metz-Conflans road. He will utilize every opportunity 
to attack the enemy 

"Colonel Lehmann will march at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow from Thiau- 
court via Dommartin to Chambley, thereafter into a bivouac at Don- 
court; Colonel V. Lyncker will start at 4:30 a.m. from Noveant via 
Gorze to the vicinity of Chambley 

"Lieut-General v. Schwartzkoppen will start from Thiaucourt 
at 5 a.m. with the Dragoon Brigade of the Guards and the rest of 
this division and march via Benoit to St. Hilaire 

"Major General v. Kraatz will start at 4:30 a.m. with the 20th 
Division and the corps artillery, will cross the Moselle on both bridges 
and will go into a bivouac between Beney and Thiaucourt " 


Ill Corps at Vionville — Mars-la-Tour 

General Alvensleben's Orders for August 16th 

General v. Alvensleben, who in his impetuosity had 
acted ahead of orders by conducting his entire corps across 
the Mor 'le on the evening of the 15th, had sent his ad- 
vance guard during the night to opposite Gorze and On- 

Though the last troops, in consequence of the difficul- 
ties encountered in crossing the Moselle, had only gotten to 
rest at 2:00 A.M., and though great fatigue stared them 
in the face for the succeeding day, General v. Alvensleben 
fixed the time of start on the 16th at 5:00 A.M., and even 
earlier for the cavalry division. It is true that no more 
detailed information of the enemy had been received at 
headquarters Hid Army Corps up to the evening, still that 
headquarters entertained the hope that the French army 
would arrive west of Metz, and therefore reckoned in its 
orders for the 16th with an encounter with the enemy. 

Should the enemy be just west of Metz, he could be 
opposed straight across the Metz-Verdun road ; should he 
be on the march to Verdun, he could be attacked in flank; 
should he, against all expectation, have made unusual pro- 
gress in the direction of the last named place, he could be 
engaged in battle and contained until the other army corps 
of the Second Army could come up. 

In order to be able to march in two columns. General 
V. Alvensleben on his own responsibility selected the addi- 
tional difficult mountain roads from Onville to Les Bara- 
ques and through these obtained increased facility for de- 
ployment, as well as the possibility of getting ahead faster. 
His orders for the 16th read : 

Pagny, 15 August, 1870; 10:30 p.m. 

"Pursuant to orders from higher headquarters the lid Army 
Corps will start at daybi-eak for both sides of the Metz-Verdun road. 
For this purpose the start will be: 

"The 6th Infantry at 5:00 A.M., marching via Arnaville-Onville 
toward Mars-la-Tour. The division will orient itself in good time 
through officers sent ahead to observe the roads of which nothing is 
known except through the maps. 

"The corps artillery follows the division at 7:00 A.M. 

"The 6th Cavalry Division must have cleared the bridge at Nov- 
eant by 5:30 A.M., without fail, and will then continue the march via 
Gorze toward Vionville. 


Military Monographs 

"The 5th Infantry Division will follow the 6th Cavalry Division. 
All troops arriving on the Metz-Verdun road will for the present 
face toward the fortress " 

Additional Orders from Royal Headquarters are 

Received at Headquarters Second Army, 

Evening of August 15th 

In the meantime additional orders from Royal Head- 
quarters relating to the 16th had been received at Head- 
quarters Second Army in Pont-a-Mousson about 10:30 
P.M., August 15th, which stated that the fruits of the vic- 
tory of the 14th of August could be fully gathered only by 
an advance in force by the Second Army towards the roads 
from Metz via Fresnes and Etain to Verdun. 

It was left to the discretion of that headquarters to act, 
with the means at its disposal. 

As no reports had been received at that headquarters 
from the 5th Cavalry Division, which might have cleared up 
the actual situation, it was justifiable to assume that the 
wishes of Royal Headquarters would be fully met by send- 
ing out two army corps and two cavalry divisions in the 
designated direction. 

The following orders were therefore sent at 8 :00 A.M. 
on the 16th to the Xth and IXth Army Corps. 

1) To the Xth Army Corps: "His Majesty will transfer his 
headquarters today to Pont-a-Mousson. According to information 
received the enemy is mainly retreating on the road leading from 
Metz via Etain to Verdun. Therefore your Excellency will send the 
cavalry toward that road." 

2) To the IXth Army Corps: "It is necessary that the IXth 
Army Corps cross the Moselle in connection with the Hid Army Corps 
on the bridge thrown by that corps in the vicinity of Pagny-sur-Mo- 
selle. You will remain on the march with the IXth Corps and bring 
that corps close to the Moselle, as well as . . 

"If possible, the corps will cross the Moselle with parts of its 
forces today and will tomorrow follow up the Illd Corps toward Mars- 
la-Tour " 

Headquarters Illd Army Corps received no additional 

Movements of the French August 15th 

The marching off of the French was carried out but 
slowly on account of the battle of the 14th of August. 

—450— ' 

Ill Corps at Vionville — Mars-la-Tour 

The troops which had crossed the river were closely 
crowded together as far as the fork of the road at Grave- 
lotte. Rations were to be drawn en route, in addition. The